New art in the Riddell Centre
Author: liam fitz-gerald – contributor
These days, it’s safe to say that the students at the University of Regina have a lot on their minds, and when they’re not thinking about exams and papers, they may be resting in the Riddell Center lounge area and wondering what exactly Sean Whalley’s Second Story #4 actually is. A wooden sculpture that sits between the chairs on the south end of the Riddell, it stands at least 15 feet and this work is something that cannot be missed. At first glance some people may think of this artwork as “weird” and not really know what to make of it.
It possesses what appears to be a long neck with spikes running down its backside all leading into a lower trunk that seems to have a whale tale coming out of its back. Two arms stick out of it on the front and the way the sculpture is shaped gives it the impression of it walking towards the viewer. The sculpture is remarkably imposing and is something that cannot be missed.
A visual artist, Whalley is an assistant professor of visual art in the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Regina. Some of his previous exhibitions include “Timber” which was showcased at the Dofasco Gallery in Dundas Ontario in 1996 and “Bound Together”, which was showcased at the Mackenzie Art Gallery in 2000. Whalley’s work has been featured in magazines and papers such as Canadian Art Magazine, Prairie Dog and Fuse Magazine. Whalley spoke about Second Story #4 and the origins and inspirations behind it, revealing that the environment of his home province of Ontario was what stimulated his idea for the work.
“Much of Eastern Canada and the United States was home to the largest broad-leaf forest in the world. When the first Europeans came to Canada, they encountered a forest so vast that a squirrel could hop tree top to tree top without touching the ground from Barry, Ontario to the Mississippi. Growing up in the area, there were still some old growth trees in my home town, trees 200-500 years old,” Whalley said.
Whalley says that Second Story #4 is seen out of context as it was initially part of a much larger display. Second Story #2 is made of recycled wood and glass, materials that Whalley spent half a decade collecting out of construction and demolition sites and when it was displayed at the Dunlop Art Gallery in 2004, it was part of a “faux forest,” with three other large sculptures that viewers could walk through.
As Whalley created the exhibit out of recycled products, he emphasizes the importance of recycling.
“Trees can live for hundreds of years… and in a very short time, they have mostly disappeared in North America. With a little extra thought, time and energy, rather than throwing things out and constantly wanting the latest and newest, we can make change and help preserve what is left.”
Whalley feels that reception to his work has been positive and hopes that creating beautiful sculptures out of recycled material will inspire individuals to examine their day-to-day habits and be less wasteful.