Beluga Ballet, 1991
• cararra calacatta marble & granite
• 37” H x 48” W x 28” D (94cm H x 122cm W x 71cm D)
• corporate collection of Sterling Winthrop Pharmaceuticals, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Binkley carved “Beluga Ballet” in 1991 and the pair of whales were inspired by the shape of the original block of Italian white marble that he purchased from a colleague. This variety of marble is called calacatta and is quarried in the mountains above the famous town of Carrara, Italy. The block had a long, slender shape that was about 7 ‘ x 2′ x 1.5’.
As the marble is white, Binkley imagined two beluga whales about 4′ long each inside the block, so he split it in the middle at an oblique angle. This allowed for the curved composition of each whale. The artist wanted to carve each whale completely in the round and mount them so they appeared to be floating in water. Binkley achieved this by mounting each sculpture on a 1″ diameter steel pin and each pin was mounted onto a polished black granite base.
The opposing curves of the whale’s bodies makes for a contained, elliptical composition between them and Binkley orientated their heads in such a way as they appear to be conversing. Each whale has the typical bulges of blubber, and their enigmatic smile that leads Binkley to think these are the only animals that are happy to be fat. The sculptor gave each whale’s body surface a silky smooth matte finish that is wonderful to the touch, and gives the marble the ability to successfully hold shadow.
The sculpture was carved on spec and Binkley spent several years exhibiting and marketing it. It was finally purchased for the public art collection of the Sterling Whinthrop Pharmaceutical Company. Sterling Whinthrop has many subsidiary branches around the world and Binkley’s sculpture represents the Canadian branch in the Company’s collection at its head offices in Philadelphia, PA, USA.