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Chief Peguis sculptures a labour of love for artist

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It is said that nature cannot be imitated. Still, local artist Peter Sawatzky has done an amazingly realistic job with his dramatic new wolf sculptures located along Chief Peguis Trail.


The 10 bronze sculptures were unveiled in August and capture the majestic power and movement of the wolf. Weighing between 700 and 800 pounds each, they pay homage to these magnificent creatures while referencing Chief Peguis’s historical signature.


Each wolf statue is unique. Individually, they are each depicted in different poses with their heads at different angles and legs at different stages of a running stride. Together, the sculptures work as a group, deliberately positioned in motion to give them a realistic sense of movement and life.


According to Sawatzky, the process involved in creating the sculptures "took roughly three years."

The task of capturing the movement, life and detail of each wolf took some intensive planning and labour. Everything, including the proportion and position of each wolf, was carefully planned out.


This lengthy process started with observing and recording the wolves in their natural habitat at Yellowstone National Park. Sawatzky then developed a maquette, or scale model, which involved carving out the basic shapes of the animal before any detail was created. It was used to visualize and test shapes and ideas without incurring the cost and effort of producing a full scale sculpture.


Production of a full-sized model was the next step of the process. Sawatzky constructed the armature, or framework, for the sculpture out of steel rods and wires, then moulded plasticine over it. In this step, Sawatzky tweaked the position of each wolf’s head, leg and tail.


A rubber mould was then produced to create a negative, or reversed, impression of the sculpture (hollow inside). After a three-eights inch layer of wax was brushed on the inside of the rubber mould, as well as a few additional steps taken, the sculpture was finally cast in bronze and the various sections of the wolf’s body were welded together to form one piece.


Thanks to the design of the 10 kilometres of multi-use recreational pathways along Chief Peguis by landscape architects at Smith Carter Architects and Engineers, it is easy for community members to walk or ride their bike to experience the two wolf packs up close. When walking around the sculptures, the viewer understands the power and magnificence of the animal.


Sawatzky is an extremely talented artist. As a winner of countless awards and numerous commissions in both Canada and the United States, he has achieved a unique status in Canada’s sculpture tradition and is widely collected.


To view more of Sawatzky’s work, visit the Loch Gallery website at www.lochgallery.com.


Charlene Kroll is a community correspondent for North Kildonan. She can be contacted at krollcharlene@gmail.com.

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