Rails End Gallery exhibit for the birds 

By Chad Ingram

There’s an avian theme to the exhibit now showing at Haliburton’s Rails End Gallery – BIRD.

The show features the sculptures of master carver Greg Gillespie along with the Photoshop abstracts of artist June Krisko.

Gillespie has been carving birds for more than 35 years getting his start from a neighbour in the early 1980s a neighbour who just so happened to be a renowned bird carver named Weldon Tracey.

“Back in those days you could make a living being a bird carver” Gillespie said. “He really pardon the pun took me under his wing.”

Starting out carving decoys over the years Gillespie’s work has involved into intricate and finely detailed interpretive works.

“You have to make the habitat the bird sits on” Gillespie explained.

His work The Fisher for example in exquisite details shows a fisher perched above a pool of water watching a swirling school of fish. In Shadow Hunter a bird of prey descends on a scampering mouse.

If one looks closely the mouse’s tracks are visible and the escape route leading to its burrow is a separate piece that can be moved allowing the viewer to make the situation less dire or more dire for the rodent. In 2016 Gillespie won a third place prize at the world carving championships in Maryland.

Gillespie is retired from the MNR and a nature enthusiast and the creatures in his works come from his mind’s eye and while some carvers create pieces by carving out a single piece of wood Gillespie’s sculptures fuse different pieces of wood which he said can pose some engineering challenge but also give the works a rich texture.

Krisko moved to the Haliburton Highlands about a year ago from Jordan Station Ont.

“I’ve always done oil painting” she said explaining however that after years of working with paints she began to develop an allergic reaction. “Then I discovered Photoshop and I thought hey that’s really cool.”

Krisko uses an application called Autodesk Sketchbook to create her abstract works.

“I’m more of a concept spiritual personality” she said explaining she also does photography and that since moving to a 29-acre property in the county many of her photography subjects are birds.

They along with the major life transition of the move were the inspiration behind the large colourful work Birdsong.

“It was time for us to leave the nest” she says of the move to Haliburton.

The application also allows for the creation of time-lapse videos of the works being created one of which plays on the wall of the gallery as part of the exhibit.