Artist Maarten Schaddelee works on his newest sculpture of eagles intertwined as soulmates in his studio on Vantreight Drive in Gordon Head. This weekend the prolific sculptor is hosting his 20th annual spring art show.

Artist Maarten Schaddelee works on his newest sculpture of eagles intertwined as soulmates in his studio on Vantreight Drive in Gordon Head. This weekend the prolific sculptor is hosting his 20th annual spring art show.

For Saanich sculptor, nature inspires

Maarten Schaddelee only needs to look out the window at his waterfront Gordon Head home to find inspiration.

Maarten Schaddelee only needs to look out the window at his waterfront Gordon Head home to find inspiration. Eagles soar, seals swim and Schaddelee sculpts.

His monumental stone carvings mark public spaces across the region – Clover Point, Save-on-Food Memorial Centre, the Bob Wright building at the University of Victoria. This weekend the public is invited to explore the gallery and grounds for Maarten and Nadia Schaddelee’s 20th annual spring art show at Maarnada Studios.

“I’m going back to where I started, with marine mammals, with everything I see out my window. Seals, herons, there’s lots of eagles this year,” Schaddelee remarks on Tuesday.

“(The eagles) are playing aerial games with (turkey) vultures. I’ve been here 35 years and have never seen it like this before. It’s quite a show.”

Among the 40 pieces that draw inspiration from nature, it’s only fitting that a centerpiece sculpture is a six foot tall red cedar carving of intertwined eagles, given the aerie outside his windows. Opening their home gives visitors a sense of the Haro Strait viewscapes that inspires the art.

“Twenty years ago people had a curiosity but they didn’t know about the work. We created a place where people could come and view it while they could also get a sense of place and the person,” says Nadina, Maarnada’s storyteller. “It connects them to the art because the art becomes an experience for them.”

Much of Schaddelee’s public commissioned work incorporates themes of peace and the human spirit. “My work celebrates life. When you come to the gallery, there’s no darkness here,” he says. “I had a health challenge at one point. Now you can’t wipe the smile off my face.”

Much of his recent work celebrates marine life and the natural world as a means to promote environmental awareness.

“I want to create whales and dolphins, and show that their plight is our plight, show that polluting the water affects us,” he says. “Creating sculptures that bring out feelings is my part.”

Schaddelee, a son of the family that created The Dutch Bakery in Victoria, was a master cake decorator and baker until 1991, when he made the leap to full time artist. He couldn’t have done it without Nadia, he says, who helps manage the business of art.

“It was a health challenge that made me chose. Nadia gave me complete support and I never looked back. It was a huge decision,” Schaddelee says.”I had sculpted and people did buy my work, but it was making a break into the unknown. I’m proud of what Nadia and I have done here.”

Schaddelee primarily works with old growth cedar from Vancouver Island, or marble sourced in Duncan or the Mainland. He designs pieces in his head, and chips away at the pieces until the figure emerges.

“It’s not like Michelangelo who saw the image in the stone and removed the excess,” he says. “It’s a dance around that stone until the image that’s in my head is there in front of you.”

Maarnada studios, gallery and sculpture garden is at 4635 Vantreight Dr., and open to the public on May 4 and 5 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. See maartenschaddelee.ca.

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