46″W X 116″H X 19″D
NORTH VANCOUVER, BC
The Shell sculpture is carved from a maple tree trunk with two main branches mounted on naturally oxidized steel sheeting. Shell is an expression of youthful naivety and one of my earliest adventures of self-discovery.
Its huge scale makes you feel small and reminisces a time when imagination ruled over pragmatism and everything seemed possible. Play came naturally – it wasn’t scripted or scheduled – and you weren’t worried about tomorrow because you lived in the now. When you were small you were constantly discovering miracles: how you could have perfect conversations with your dog to why everything in a cold bowl was always delicious. You were a sponge mopping up all kinds of experiences.
As we get older and bigger we forget how to get small, how to play and be playful. My days as a child in the summer months playing between the two tidal marks became my uncharted galaxy where I was an astronaut exploring strange new worlds.
As an adult, I can still smell the ocean and hear the crackle and hiss of the water rushing over the kelp and crevices as if I was 5 again. It’s the quality of those early memories that I try to instill in all my current work. Now, when I actively practice design, I’m surprised at how often I come back to these early memories of exploring on the beach.
As a more functional example of work directly inspired by the intertidal zone, the set of three sea glass pieces crafted from solid western red cedar sit at the bottom of the shell sculpture. I originally made these for Kelly Deck to display in her presentation at IDS West 2009 show where she displayed them as tables. These forms are worn and smooth as if Mother Nature has softened them; I was amazed to learn as a child that she would turn sharp glass left on the beach into smooth, soft jewels. I never questioned as a kid why she bothered to do this and still don’t, but am thankful she does. I am still constantly intrigued with these forms and soon we will be providing large-scale public seating using sea glass as my inspiration for a residential development in 2018.
It’s observations like these that put into context what I do. Looking at the global world in the grandeur of nature is humbling; It helps me remember that life is ephemeral and I’m only a small part of something bigger, that people don’t need a wealth of possessions but what they do possess must be intimate and meaningful.
Brent Comber Originals Studio
Photography: IDS Vancouver, WhenTheyFindUs