The Gondolier’s Mistress, 2010
• carrara administrazione marble
• 36” H x 15” W x 11” D (91cm H x 38cm W x 28cm D)
Michael and Michelle Binkley celebrated their 16th wedding anniversary in Venice, Italy at the end of the hot summer of 2008. While they were sipping cool drinks in a small piazza one afternoon, the artist watched two gondoliers as they waited for their next fare, each holding his craft to the pier with one foot.
What if one of them had a mistress? Would she seduce him by appearing on the prow of his gondola in the cool of the night under the light of a full moon? Would a gentle breeze flow through the long tresses of her hair?
Binkley was inspired to create a sculpture of this scene. The next stop on that Italian trip was the town of Pietrasanta where the Binkley’s lived for the month of September while the artist worked on projects at Studio SEM. This was the first sculpture of Binkley’s 2008 Italian Collection, which he roughed out at Studio SEM. He shipped the piece back home and finished it in his Vancouver studio.
This is a sound piece of Carrara marble from the Administrazione quarry. This variety of white marble is practically clear of coloured striations and has a pale ivory hue. Since the piece would not accommodate the entire gondola, Binkley engages the viewer to complete the boat in their mind. The unique shape of the boat and the signature “fèro” bow decoration are clearly defined.
The female figure has a serene expression on her face. She is confident and uncaring of her nudity as she waits for her lover. He will no doubt notice her as she sits leaning against the fèro. Her physique is slim and athletic and she dangles one foot down to dip in the cool of the canal.
Binkley used several different surface treatments to describe the elements of the sculpture. The mistress’ hair and the water have tooth chisel marks as both are flowing and fluid. The deck of the gondola has a fine file finish that resembles the texture of linen. Finally, the mistress’ skin and the hull of the gondola have a smooth, matte finish. This emulates the smoothness of natural skin and ties the boat and the figure together. This also allows the sculpture to hold shadows which are so important to the mood of the art work.
The sculpture weighs about 250 pounds, yet the composition and execution give the art work a sense of lightness.