The Creation of Ansia

• private collection, Kelowna, BC, Canada

michael binkley sculptor sculpture original fine art gallery vancouver canada marble female nude ansia

In late 2005, Michael Binkley secured a commission for a life-size standing female nude sculpture which he began work on in Italy in the spring of 2006 – marking one of his Italian Experiences. The patron was very excited that Binkley would be personally choosing the white marble block and that the genesis of the carving of the sculpture would occur in Italy.

There were several features the patron wanted included in the sculpture. The figure had to have passion, mysticism, innocence, sensuality, and femininity in her form. She was to have a less detailed face that was open to interpretation, be slim, athletic, flirting, enticing, strong, yet have an unobtainable air. Binkley’s conceptual sketch is at left, and was his response to this extensive list of criteria. He did have the patron’s permission to have artistic licence to make subtle changes if the marble block dictated it.

michael binkley sculptor sculpture original fine art gallery vancouver canada marble female nude ansia

In Pietrasanta, Italy, Binkley rented workspace at the famous Studio SEM. He selected a beautiful and sound 2.5 ton block of Bianco marble from the quarries in the mountains above the famous town of Carrara, Italy. The block had a natural slanted break along one upper side. This followed the form of the figure’s tilted head and right arm which was to brush a lock of hair from her face. This told Binkley it was the perfect block of stone.

Binkley worked on the sculpture for a week, before putting it aside to work on three other commissions. These are photos of the sculptor in Studio SEM, working on the artwork. It was an amazing time, working alongside the Studio’s artigiani (Italian for craftsmen) under the warm Tuscan sun and in the shadow of the Apennine Mountains. Binkley was shocked that these seasoned carvers did not know a technique he uses for bulk stone removal. Binkley frets the marble with a diamond cutting blade on an angle grinder and chips off the frets with a hammer and pitching chisel. The snickers he heard as he approached his block on the first morning with a small angle grinder were quelled by evening when he was standing ankle deep in marble chips. “All you?” he was asked in broken English, as a local artigiani gestured towards the pile of stone chips. Unfortunately, water is not used in the carving process at Studio SEM, something Binkley does in Vancouver to keep the dust down and to ease the grinder’s work. Binkley had to do all his cutting in front of a huge dust extractor.

Then came his Trow and Holden 1″ pneumatic hammer, which is designed for granite and rips a chisel through marble. “May I try?” was a request from one artigiani.

michael binkley sculptor sculpture original fine art gallery vancouver canada marble female nude ansia

Binkley wanted to keep a good portion of marble on the sculpture so there would be no danger of breakage during shipping back to his Vancouver studio. The container with the sculpture arrived in Vancouver in July of 2006, and he continued work and completed the sculpture in early 2007.

Here, he uses his pneumatic hammer and chisels to carve the marble (left) and a rotary pneumatic die grinder to abrade the finer details (right).

michael binkley sculptor sculpture original fine art gallery vancouver canada marble female nude ansia

These are progression shots, showing how the sculpture slowly emerged from within the white marble block. This project was a challenge, but Binkley had a wonderful time sculpting “Ansia”; from deciding on her pose, to traveling to Pietrasanta, Italy to selecting the marble, to beginning carving her there, to her completion at his studio in North Vancouver, culminating in her debut in early 2007 in his gallery.

Michael Binkley