Orca Table, 1996
• prairie green granite & glass
• 36” H x 60” W x 20” D (91cm H x 152cm W x 51cm D)
• private collection, North Vancouver, BC, Canada
Michael Binkley received a challenging commission from a patron to create a unique coffee table for the patrons’ home. The couple had collected several of Binkley’s works and had gained the confidence to engage the sculptor with a larger art work.
Binkley and his patrons collaborated until the composition of a pair of orca whales supporting the glass table top was agreed upon. Binkley carved the male and female orcas in an attitude where they seem to be swimming side by side near the surface of the ocean. The male has taken a breath and is diving down while the female is coming up for a breath of air. The glass table top is the ocean surface and Binkley cut a hole in the glass to allow the dorsal fin of the male orca to penetrate above the glass. The table top is an asymmetrical kidney shape and can be removed by carefully lifting it up past the male whale’s dorsal fin.
Binkley carved the orca whales from prairie green granite which is quarried in the province of Quebec, Canada. This variety of granite is a very dark green, almost black colour when polished. The artist sculpted and polished the whales to a high sheen to accentuate this dark colour. Each orca is carved in the round, save for some webbing that Binkley left between them for support and he used a bush hammer texture which left the granite a very pale green colour for contrast.
Binkley designed the sculpture so it is very stable. The glass top is supported on the back of the male orca and the tail and nose of the female orca. The most challenging part of the project was getting the table into the patrons’ living room and Binkley hired expert movers to accomplish the task.