Eclipse at the Sivarulrasa Gallery in beautiful downtown Almonte.

I am currently in the group show "Eclipse" with Deborah Arnold, Susan Low-Beer, Marina Malvada, and Sanjeev Sivarulrasa. This show, inspired by the upcoming Eclipse of the sun, explores not only the astronomical context of eclipse but also other connotations of the word .

 photo by Raymond Dubois

photo by Raymond Dubois

City of Ottawa Art Collection

I'm pleased to announce that "Gyptian" 2/7 has been added to the City of Ottawa Art Collection through the Direct Purchase Program.

 "Gyptian" 2/7, steel, 40" high, 2016.

"Gyptian" 2/7, steel, 40" high, 2016.


A solo exhibition, March 11 – April 17, 2016

Sivarulrasa show.jpg


Dale Dunning: Unravelling, a solo exhibition, March 11 – April 17, 2016

Curated by: Sanjeev Sivarulrasa

Unravelling… the title of this show suggests many things: the physical transformation of raw materials into something beautiful in the hands of an exceptionally gifted artist; the unravelling of our bodies and minds as we age and mature; the untangling of the mysteries of the human condition – an exploration that art celebrates. In Unravelling, Sivarulrasa Gallery presents 23 fascinating works in bronze, aluminum, steel, and glass by sculptor Dale Dunning, spanning four decades of relentless creativity – including several new works that are being exhibited for the first time. The exhibition showcases Dunning’s remarkable versatility, his mastery of technique, and his intriguing vision.

Father-daughter art shows make for a great outing

Peter Simpson - The Big Beat More from Peter Simpson - The Big Beat

Published on: April 3, 2015
Last Updated: April 3, 2015 12:29 PM EDT

And now, a suggestion for an afternoon road trip to two provinces to see two art exhibits by two members of one family.

Dale Dunning has the exhibition Personae, at the Espace Pierre Debain in Aylmer, while Annie Dunning, his daughter, has Sapsucker Sounds at Gallery 101 in Ottawa. On the surface the shows are very different, but a closer look reveals how both artists have turned ordinary objects into artworks that are anything but ordinary.

Gallery 101 is an unforgiving space for an art show. It’s in a garage that sits in the shadow of the Queensway. Hints of spring have turned the driveway to mud, which a visitor cannot avoid while navigating between the neighbouring businesses’ pick-up trucks. (When I opened the gallery door to leave I banged the back of a pickup.)  Inside, the gallery space is industrial bland, all concrete and exposed piping, with a forced-air heating system that is loud, oppressively windy and difficult to avoid, like Tom Mulcair during Question Period.

All of which makes it more impressive that Annie Dunning has managed to establish in the space a sense of being in a forest glade. In Sapsucker Sounds, Annie has used a few pieces of wood and metal, seasoned with sound and light, to create an atmosphere that is reflective and surprisingly calming. It all began, the artist’s notes say, “with a found log, filled with holes made by a yellow-bellied sapsucker.

Woodpeckers hammer their heads into trees to both find food and mark their territory, and — this part was news to me — they sometimes hammer on metal road signs, “taking advantage of the amplification” that results. It’s this “inter-species cultural influence” that interests Annie.

It’s not a large show, only a half-dozen or so pieces, but they are bound by theme and imagination and work together to affect the viewer. One piece, Record, is a small, rustic turntable that spins a brass disc that in turn is read by a sensor. The sensor transmits the signal to a device overhead that fires small hammers into a short log, producing the recognizable sound of a woodpecker pecking. But that’s not all: the sensor also reacts to the propinquity of the viewer, and sometimes produces the same pecking on a metal sign positioned 20 or so feet away (and covered in a painting of a woodpecker on a tree).

I tried to figure how the sensor was reacting to my movements, but it was elusive and I couldn’t quite see the answer. It was a lot like trying to get a good look at an actual woodpecker but having it hop around to the other side of the tree.

Another piece, Music Box, produces a woodpecker sound, but only if the viewer turns a crank. Next to it is a pile of firewood, topped by a video projection of woodpecker at work. Then there’s a pile of metal “logs” that are lighted from the inside, so the light streams out through a pattern of holes left behind by a woodpecker.

There’s more, and every piece helps to create the feeling of being out there, among the trees, in the presence of an industrious and impressive bird. This is a great exhibition for children, as it’s interactive and entertaining. But more than that, it is transformative, as it takes you from a bland space and transports you to someplace wild and enchanted.

 A bust made of bolts, by Dale Dunning at Espace Pierre-Debain in Gatineau.

A bust made of bolts, by Dale Dunning at Espace Pierre-Debain in Gatineau.

Over at Espace Pierre-Debain in Aylmer, Dale Dunning’s work looks to another sort of enchantment, one that is darker, and more introspective. Personae is built around a series of large, metal masks and busts, each inspired by mythology and history, and made of repurposed materials.

There are bronze masks, in which Dale has turned familiar patterns of decorative wrought metal into enigmatic faces. Another mask has a vague human face fashioned entirely from individual letters made of aluminum type, as would be used on a press — hence the mask’s title, Palimpsest, a thing to be written on over again and again. A mask titled Prometheus is made of larger bronze letters, all welded together and with a few stray ends sticking out the back, which made me think of Medusa and her coiffure of snakes. Another, titled the Ineluctable Dream, is, as its name suggests, impossible to ignore, with large wings for eyes.

Other busts are made entirely of small bolts, thousands of them welded together and pointed outward, creating considerable depth and unique texture. How endless and meticulous the manufacture of these masks must have been. Dale Dunning creates that rare sort of art in which the process of creating it impresses almost as much as the end result.

 Detail of Palimpsest, by Dale Dunning. (Photo courtesy the artist)

Detail of Palimpsest, by Dale Dunning. (Photo courtesy the artist)

A slide show of my sculpture at Espace Pierre Debain.

The images are numbered in the bottom right corner so you can match them up with the list below.

 1. Installation shot
 2. Installation shot
 3. Installation shot
 4. Installation shot
 5. "Anemone", 29" x 18" x 9", steel, #12130, $12,500
 6.         "
 7.         "
 8. "Soritical Head", 14"x8"x15", steel bolts, #15100, $9,500
 9.         "
10. "Fibonacci Dream", 17”x14”x9”, steel, #12001, $9,500
11.        "
12.        "
13.        "
14. "Sorites Fetish", 33.5”x19”x12”, steel bolts, #11102, $19,500
15.        "
16. "Ineluctable Dream", 45"x30"x11", bronze, #12200, $19,500
17.        "
18. "Palimpsest", 3/7, 27”x18”x9”, aluminium, #10320, $9,500
19.        "
20.        "
21.        "
22 . "Prometheus", 20”x16”x12”, bronze, #10100, $12,500
23.        "
24. "Green Samurai", AP, 18"x14"x9", bronze, #14020, $7,500
25.        "
26. "Midori Koi", AP, 28"x18"x9", bronze, #14000, $9,500
27.        "
28.        "
29. "Akai Koi", AP, 26"x17"x8", bronze, #14010, $9,500    
30.        "
31. "Snakes & Letters",1/1, 29"x19"x11", aluminium, #15000, $10,500
32.        "
33.        "   

Solo Show at Espace Pierre Debain

This is the official invitation for my show at Espace Pierre Debain, in Aylmer, about 45 minutes from Almonte and 30 minutes from Ottawa. The opening is next Wednesday the 11th from 6:00 to 8:00. The show will run from the 11th of March to the 19th of April 2015. The gallery hours are 1:00 to 8:00 Monday to Friday and 12:00 to 4:00 Saturday and Sunday. For more on the show click here, and to learn more about the gallery check them out on Facebook.
I will be present at the opening.

Wallack Galleries Show

I will be showing a selection of my sculpture and digital images at Wallack Galleries in Ottawa.

The show starts  Saturday, November 29 and I will be present on that day from 2:00 to 5:00.

Modern Beauty

I am introducing a new series called "Koi" which is Japanese for love.  The works are cast bronze about 30 inches high and to my eye they have a Japanese quality to them though the elements that form the sculptures are taken from Victorian ornamental details for furniture.

Sculpture review in Vie des Arts

 Ineluctable Dream, 45" x 30" x 11",   bronze

Ineluctable Dream, 45" x 30" x 11",   bronze


by : Dorota Kozinska 02 Oc.t, 2013 Vie des Arts

Dale Dunning sculpts heads. His subject matter has not altered in years, but his production is continually evolving, fluctuating, oscillating between classical and contemporary, mythical and imaginary.  
Michigan-born (sic), New Brunswick-educated (Mt. Allison University in Sackville), he has reached for one of the oldest and most fecund of subject matters. From Brancusi's stylized sculptures, to Mitoraj's classical colossi, the head has been the favourite of artists from the very beginning. Like peering into our own eye, heads in art are the ultimate reflection. Dunning's bronze and aluminium sculptures may seem like a thinking man's art, replete with visual symbolism and cultural references, yet they are unbearably tactile, accessible and entrancing, regardless of size. From the fetish-like small pieces that mould themselves in the palm of the hand, to his large scale sculptures with their myriad protrusions and applications. The many allusions to mythology (eg Icarus) give them an aura of antiquity and melancholy, an echo of the past resonating in their enclosed interiors. Some we can peek into, squint to look between the filigree carvings that shape the face. Dunning's work is truly magical.

Like so many artists reluctant to write about their own creativity, the impressively prolific sculptor will offer this in his artist's statement: "My sculptures are objects of reflection and contemplation. (...) The works are open ended with no didactic intent other than to see new possibilities."

Not much more is needed to explain Dunning's work, if art really, ultimately needed explaining. It is best experienced.

Dale Dunning's works are at Galerie D'Avignon on Laurier St. till October 5, 2013.

Artists and craftspeople turn to the penny as a new creative medium

 Waiting for the Penny, gilded copper

Waiting for the Penny, gilded copper

With the penny headed for obscurity, creative types are finding inventive ways of transforming the humble metal into art.

 By: David Graham Living, Published on Fri Feb 01 2013.  Life  The Star

The penny is dead.

Long live the penny.

As Canada’s smallest currency fades into extinction, artists and crafts people across the country are searching for ways to keep its memory alive — to repurpose the unlucky penny into a lasting treasure.

The Royal Canadian Mint has already ceased production, and the one cent piece will be stricken from circulation on Feb. 4, “due to its excessive and rising cost of production relative to face value,” according to its website.

There were other reasons to stop producing and circulating the penny. Canadians had been hoarding them for years — in glass jam jars and plastic ice cream containers. Their diminished value made them a nuisance to carry around. While at face value a penny costs a penny, in fact the penny costs 1.6 cents to produce, distribute, handle and process.

There were environmental concerns as well. Eliminating the penny means saving base metals — the penny is 94 per cent steel, 1.5 per cent nickel and 4.5 per cent copper plating or copper-pated zinc — and energy.

In the end it came down to dollars and cents. Removing the penny from our daily lives will save taxpayers millions. While pennies can still be used in cash transactions, “with businesses that choose to accept them” they are — for all intents and purposes — on a fast track to oblivion.

For months Canadians have been searching for ways to shed their collections of coppers.

Some have returned them to banks and financial institutions that forward them to the mint to be melted down. Others have donated them to charities. Consumers will be able to redeem their pennies at financial institutions indefinitely. About 35 billion pennies have been minted in Canada since 1908.

But artistic Canadians have been putting the penny to work in new ways. Though Section 11 of the Department of Justice Currency Act prohibits the altering or destruction of Canadian coins, the Minister of Finance has issued a number of licences under this section to artists.

Dale Dunning, a sculptor in Almonte, Ont., has a studio called Lost and Foundry that specializes in repurposing all manner of metals. Dunning, who has created many sculptures in the shape of the human face, took the opportunity recently to design and build a larger-than-life mask made from pennies.

Dunning says he has been using the shape of the human face in his art for more than 10 years — creating his sculptures in a variety of sizes and in a variety of mediums, including bronze and aluminum.

“There are no necks and the egg shape has only the suggestion of eyes, nose and mouth,” he says, explaining that he always makes the faces either larger or smaller than life. “When they are life size, people have a visceral reaction to them. They look like a decapitated head. Once they are larger or smaller they become a metaphor.” The penny sculpture has a slot in the forehead, to evoke piggy banks and saving.

Dunning has been drawn to the concept of repurposing metals for years. One of his most striking faces was created from 20 gallons of lead type that had been removed from a local printing operation.

For his “Waiting for the Penny” project he used several hundred pre-1987 coppers.

“That’s when they started to put zinc in the penny,” he says.

For the face Dunning heated each penny until it was red hot then cooled it quickly, a process called annealing. The change in temperature alters the molecular structure of the penny which makes it malleable, he explains. That allowed him to mould the pennies to the contours of the face — around the nose and into the eyes. He reinforced the fragile silver-soldered sculpture with steel bars and sandblasted the project to give it a consistent surface. Finally, he gilded the piece with 22-karat gold leaf — so thin it’s actually transparent, he says. “I found it amusing to make it look more valuable than it was, taking something you might throw away — and make it precious.”