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Sculpture Commission

I was commissioned by Omer Arbel architects to create a larger than life-sized, figurative sculpture for the new Herschel Supply Co. flagship store. Titled “Big Pants,” it is the 6-foot, white terracotta sculpture in the above photo standing among a family of other figurative sculptures.

From BC Living magazine:

It’s clear, this is an art-forward concept space. Scattered throughout the store are life-sized, figurative sculptures created by a variety of Canadian artists. All the pieces are incredibly textural and organic, such as the … female figure, … in clay, sculpted in five separate parts that were assembled after firing, by Ellen Scobie.

From the Straight: Herschel Supply opens flagship—and first North American store—in Gastown

The 5,000-square-foot shop carries the world’s largest selection of Herschel products.

There’s also a parade of humanlike figures exhibited at the front of the store—some sculpted from stone, some basket-woven, some carved from cedar, and so on—that Herschel commissioned from various Canadian artists.

Lyndon Cormack, who launched Herschel with his brother Jamie nine years ago, tells the Straight during a tour of the shop,

“It’s just celebrating craft … it’s celebrating cool, amazing artisans who are just thought-provoking, interesting.”

animated GIF showing two sides of a 6-foot ceramic sculpture of abstract female

Creative Process

The sculpture was hand built from 800 lb. of clay. The final size is about 6 feet high, 3 feet wide at the base. The body was sculpted in five separate parts which were then hollowed out, fired in a kiln and assembled. Plaster was used to bind and refine the body shape; other parts were chipped away by hand chisel. The creation of the sculpture was largely an intuitive process where I tried to be open to the creative possibilities in every decision.
life-size terracotta figure by vancouver sculptor ellen scobie

Artist Statement

This is a female figure. There is a waist. There are ample hips. More importantly there is attitude. She is in a stance of defiance. One of power. It says here I am. I am a woman. This is my body. And I come from the earth, from clay, I’ve been hewn from rock. She’s standing up tall, like a mountain. She’s strong. She’s bold. She’s pointing the way.

A sculpture of this size requires a team effort. Technical support and expertise was provided by my sculpture partner, Geemon Xin Meng, at the Vancouver Sculpture Studio. The sculpture was expertly fired by renowned Canadian ceramic artist Keith Rice-Jones.

See the sculpture at Herschel Supply Company, 347 Water Street, Vancouver, BC.

Photos: Ellen Scobie

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The Walking Man of Rodin


LEGS hold a torso away from the earth.
And a regular high poem of legs is here.
Powers of bone and cord raise a belly and lungs
Out of ooze and over the loam where eyes look and ears hear
And arms have a chance to hammer and shoot and run motors.
You make us
Proud of our legs, old man.

And you left off the head here,
The skull found always crumbling neighbor of the ankles

(1878 — 1967)

Photo: Walking Man by Rodin at the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden by DCArtAttack.

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Leaning into the Wind

I’m so looking forward to seeing Leaning into the Wind, a film about British artist Andy Goldsworthy. His inventive interactions with his environment are mini escapes from our thinking on how to be in this world.

At the Vancity Theatre June 4, 2018


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Looking at Drawings

Looking at drawings is one way I find inspiration when planning new sculptural forms. This portrait by Egon Schiele is arresting in the juxtaposition of the large, flat graphic orange shape of the coat and the detailed consideration of the interlocked hands. – Ellen

Life in Motion: Egon Schiele and Francesca Woodman review – vulnerable beauty

Egon Schiele and Francesca Woodman both died in their 20s. Here, their elegant images of the body under duress expose the difference between an artist’s real and invented dramas

Source: Life in Motion: Egon Schiele and Francesca Woodman review – vulnerable beauty

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Marble sculpture bust by Canova found

Sculpture expected to make over £1m was forgotten by family in Wales who owned it

Source: Canova Bust of Peace on sale in first public outing in 200 years

Photo: Sotheby’s. The Bust of Peace, a recently rediscovered sculpture by Antonio Canova (1757-1822).

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Artbuilt Mobile Studios give artists space to create and escape out-of-control rents

We need land in Metro Vancouver to put these mobile studios. Great way for artists and anyone in need of a workshop space to have their own creative sanctuary.

ArtBuilt Mobile Studios are small mobile workspaces that let artists, social-service providers and micro-businesses work in new ways and in new places.These small, movable structures can be…

Source: Artbuilt Mobile Studios give artists space to create and escape out-of-control rents | Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

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Arts Factory Artists Studios in Vancouver

The City of Vancouver announced that an unused City property will be leased to the Arts Factory to convert into shared studio space. The Arts Factory is comprised of Great Northern Way Scene Shop and the Arts Factory Society. Half of the 21,000 sq.ft. property will be used for building scenery for local theatre productions and the other half will be divided up and rented to sculptors, installation artists and other creatives who need large spaces where making a mess isn’t an issue. These space should be available in May or June, 2013. Kudos to the City of Vancouver for looking for ways to support artists with space to work in a city perennially plagued with a lack of affordable studios.

Read the Globe and Mail article.

Read the Vancouver Sun article.

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New Artist Studios

Great news from Vancouver City Council! Cultural amenity space for new artist studios at 1265 Howe Street has been approved. Under the agreement, the City will own the space in a residential mixed-use tower and it will select a non-profit operator to look after renting the studios to artists. With the severe lack of affordable studio space in Vancouver, this is sure to be a successful model and one I hope to see more of. Thank you, City of Vancouver!

Read the Complete Announcement:

Forwarded from Jacqueline Gijssen, Senior Cultural Planner with the City of Vancouver

I am super happy to report that at last night’s public hearing, City Council approved 10,800sf of cultural amenity space for artist studios at 1265 Howe Street. In addition, on march 26, City Council approved 2 new artist live/work studios located at Marine and Cambie to be added to the Artist Studio Award Program. Several years in the making, these studio developments are one aspect of the multi-pronged approach we are taking to mitigate the cultural creation/production space crisis in Vancouver.

Both developments will be for Class B space (inclusive of the higher toxicity/sound impacts) and will take approximately 2-3 years for completion.

The Howe Street Studios are particularly exciting as a brand new type of cultural space for Vancouver and the first time a large amenity has upported creation/production. Purpose built and city owned, this creative production space has built in flexibility and operational sustainability to ensure it is, and remains, functional for artist use many years into the future. The space is comprised of two levels of individual studios of approximately 350sf each with garage doors that open into a central common atrium. Pending the number of artists that may wish to share spaces, the facility will accommodate over 20 artists. The atrium area can act as a collaborative work space, or programming space and there is a dramatic presentation space fronting on to Howe Street where artists can display their works. Dedicated loading at the rear, office, storage, high ceilings, natural light, enhanced power supply, slop sinks, sound proofing are all built in. We hope this new type of space will open the conversation for new studio design and perhaps spark interest by neighbourhoods seeking to create studio spaces in their locales.

Operation of the space will involve the city leasing to a non profit operator (yet to be selected) who will be responsible for sub-leasing to the individual artists. Through the support of a cash Facility Reserve Fund (part of the CAC), the rental rates for the space are expected to be held at $1.25/sf/mon for the first number of years (inclusive of all costs).

Five years in the making, the developer and members of the cultural community have been fantastic partners in moving this project forward.

For those interested in the space, please note there is still a few years of design, permitting and construction ahead. The City will seek a non profit operator in the coming year and that operator will be responsible for tenanting the studio spaces. I regret that we cannot accept applications for studio space at this time. Watch for further announcements on a call for Expressions of Interest for a non profit Studio Operator later this year.

Jacqueline Gijssen I Senior Cultural Planner
Cultural Services I City of Vancouver


Image: Artist’s rendering of proposed artist studios at The Tate Downtown, Bonds Group of Companies