Published on Nov 11, 2021

Christiane Gauthier’s Delicate Wood Sculptures

If there is an unmissable stop in the pretty village of Piopolis, it’s the Maison Culturelle and the Laurier Gauthier stone sculpture exhibition. However, a sign at the marina announcing “Bird Sculptures and Miniature Forests” led me to the home and studio of his younger sister, Christiane Gauthier. An accomplished artist, she creates beautiful minimalist wood sculptures inspiring us with the introspection they offer and showing the beauty of nature.

By Natalie Sicard

In the workshop she set up in the basement of her home with a view of the grandiose Lake Mégantic, we discover a whole world of small, tapered and meticulously sculpted pieces in birch or maple; a real cabinet of curiosities! Birds and other winged creatures, small animals, miniature forests; a very delicate environment inviting you to a dreamlike stroll inside nature.

Her work table is littered with bits of branches, tree stumps and burls, her raw materials, and an assortment of woodcarving knives, her work tools. “We’re a family of tinkerers,” says Christiane, “my mother made clothes without a pattern and we all did something with our hands.” In fact, she herself became an art teacher. She opened the art department—batik, ceramics, painting—at the Mégantic high school in 1969 and taught there for 10 years. She then moved to Sherbrooke where she completed a bachelor and a master’s degree to teach French.

A World in Itself

Once, while she went on a shopping spree at the Langevin Forêt store, as she was browsing through a magazine, she discovered a group of artists’ work exhibiting these roosters made with tree branches. Intrigued, she took up the challenge and created her first birds mounted on small wooden blocks. But she soon found them too traditional and got tired of the repetitive compositions. She then replaced the bases for small tree stumps and had fun playing with the knots, which would become a cat, an owl, a seal, or yet again a mother bear with her babies. Her creations require a great deal of attention to detail and finishing work to produce small pieces that can be held in one hand but offer the eye so many details to immerse ourselves in. Her work has been awarded a number of ribbons in the “impressionist” category in various competitions in Massachusetts, thanks to her brother-in-law, who regularly presented her pieces at prestigious exhibitions there.

She’s now established once again in her hometown since 2010 and devotes her time to creating as soon as autumn and winter settle in. She takes out all the branches and logs she gathered throughout the summer and lets her imagination flow. We can find her pieces at the boutique of the Château Frontenac in Québec, and she’s just returned from the Festi’Bois event in Frelighsburg. However, she also welcomes visitors to come to her Piopolis workshop, upon reservation.

Atelier Christiane Gauthier : 238, Rang des Greniers, Piopolis | 819 583-1041 | gauthier.c@bell.net


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