I have covered the work of the renowned driftwood sculptor Heather Jansch in an earlier article but an artist of equal merit is Canadian-born Matt Torrens. He uses rotten or recycled wood from a variety of sources to create beautiful animal structures.
Matt was born and raised in Calgary Alberta and was influenced by western style art from a young age. He was a regular at the Calgary Stampede and his interest in horses was soon reflected in his art. He began working in a huge range of materials including clay, metal and stone.
His earliest sculptures were made of silverware and he won first prize at the 2003 California State Fair, prompting some private commissions. In 2006 he began working with manzanita driftwood and soon discovered a great passion for this form of sculpting.
Matt particularly loves the rich contours and patterns within the wood that help to bring his sculptures to life. He has learned to utilize the natural blemishes and notches of each piece of wood to enhance his creations and to suggest muscle and movement. Manzanita driftwood is native to the Northern California countryside where he now lives and much of his spare time is spent foraging for suitable materials.
This helps to add an extra eco-friendly dimension to his work, something that is proving increasingly popular with prospective buyers. He now displays his sculptures at various western art shows during the year whilst working on new commissions.
At the 9th Annual Grand National Art Show and Sale in San Francisco he won first prize overall for his five sculptures that included a life-sized upright bear and a wave with three horses running out of the break. Depending on the size of the artwork, his pieces can fetch between $2,000 and $20,000.
Each model is secured to a steel frame made from old horse corrals. After drilling screws into the wood and welding bolts to the frame, Matt varnishes the sculpture with a poly clear coat to protect it against the elements.
The similarities between Matt’s work and that of Heather Jansch are obvious but his sculptures tend to have a more rugged look. A typical sculpture can take two months to complete. You can discover more about the artist and his work matttorrens.com.