Echo Valley Ranch and Spa has a new addition to its team. Meet “artist in residence” Michael Blackstock, who has been contributing artwork to the luxury ranch resort for the last year or two, and keeps on making more.
In truth, Michael is not a staff member nor does he live at the ranch, so he’s not really “in residence.” His home is in Kamloops, where the professional forestor also maintains a studio. When not on his frequent visits to the BC ranch to install his new artwork, he’s busy at home producing more. His first work to appear at the ranch was Adams River Salmon Run. A hand carved wall sculpture found in the Games Room of the Dove Lodge. It’s carved from red and yellow cedar and cherry, as well as the more exotic zebrawood and walnut.
Michael’s next installation was the quartet of aboriginal masks hanging on the walls in Room 12 of the Lookout Lodge. The Chief mask is made of maple, copper, human hair and cedar bark. The layered cheek images are strong features that the artist saw in an image on the wall, and inspired him to create a new carving technique that required careful cuts with a power saw to create the initial cheek design. The red cedar bark was collected on Vancouver Island.
Lynx Woman was the second image on the wall to catch the artist’s eye. The mask is made of maple, copper, and human hair. The design includes a copper lip labret. The Warrior mask is made of black walnut, copper, a diamond in each eye and human hair. The Water Being is made of ash, copper and human hair. The ash was chosen because the wood grain resembles ripples in the water, and the under-cut cheek design is a wave.
Last summer Michael began carving and installing “living sculpture” on trees in the forest around the ranch. The first was Copper Drop Spring, near the fish ponds. Several more living sculptures have since appeared. These were subsequently followed by Tree Faces, hidden in the forest. Soon to be installed is the Mount Bowman Flowform Fountain, carved from Brazilian soapstone. Who knows what art Michael will create next?