Mas­ter of the Mo­saic

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Ma­gog

With the year 2012 fast ap­proach­ing, I thought it was time to get a first-hand look at mo­saic artist and sculp­tor Gae­tan D’Arcy’s fa­mous work: a six-foot wide in­tri­cately sculpted Aztec calendar, com­plete with mov­ing parts. I’d seen the un­usu-

al and beau­ti­ful work in pho­to­graphs such as the one that ran in last week’s Stanstead Jour­nal af­ter Mr. D’Arcy re­ceived the pres­ti­gious Academia Award, how­ever, when I saw the ac­tual piece it re­minded me of the stonework done cen­turies ago by pas­sion­ate crafts­peo­ple with time and tal­ent on their hands. “When you start some­thing like this you have to go all the way with­out stop­ping. It took me one and a half years to do that calendar,” said Mr. D’Arcy about the piece that sits ma­jes­ti­cally in his Ma­gog stu­dio, weigh­ing sev­eral thou­sand pounds, wait­ing for the right buyer.

Gae­tan learned the se­crets of sculpt­ing stone while work­ing in the Stanstead gran­ite in­dus­try for Ber­ch­man Cloutier for eight years. “Gae­tan used to carve the bases of mon­u­ments. He learnt to lis­ten to the stone; he knows how to work the rock by the sound that it makes,” com­mented his wife and fel­low artist, Josée Monast.

Gae­tan’s mo­saic work is equally as im­pres­sive as his sculpt­ing, fea­tur­ing care­fully cut pieces of gran­ite, slate, mar­ble and stone he’s found on his wooded prop­erty. Pick­ing up a plain-look­ing, beige-coloured rock that he had cut in half and pol­ished, he turned it over to re­veal a sparkling white, yel­low and green in­te­rior. “All lands have their trea­sures,” he said. He not only uses these lo­cal trea­sures to add some­thing spe­cial to his unique mo­saics, some of which have more than four thou­sand pieces, he has be­gun in­cor­po­rat­ing semi-pre­cious stones, like cat’s eye and fal­con’s eye, into his work.

Re­fer­ring to an Egyp­tian mo­tif in­spired fire­place that he re­cently com­pleted for a client, Gae­tan said: “Just in one of the eyes there are four hun­dred pieces and some pre­cious stones.”

Whether it’s a mo­saic of Ce­line Dion, a magnificent lion, or a man­dala-like de­sign, Gae­tan seems to be able to cre­ate any im­age he wants from thin pieces of stone that he la­bo­ri­ously and metic­u­lously cuts. “I can draw any­thing,” said the artist, adding: “But I do the mo­saics be­cause it chal­lenges me. You can’t love what you do un­less you cre­ate chal­lenges for your­self.”

His pas­sion for mo­saic work be­gan sim­ply enough: one day he saw a pile of tiles on his fa­ther’s front porch and he be­gan ex­per­i­ment­ing with them. An art stu­dent who was present dur­ing the in­ter­view com­mented: “Cu­rios­ity is of­ten a huge strength in gifted artists.”

Each of Gae­tan’s mo­saics, be it a cus­tom-made piece for a client’s hall floor like the fly­ing owl em­bed­ded in the floor of his work­shop, some­thing for a kitchen, bath­room or liv­ing room, or one of his self-in­spired works, is dif­fer­ent. “Peo­ple don’t like rep­e­ti­tion – they want to have some­thing unique. In the end, it is the orig­i­nal­ity that mat­ters.”

In­ter­viewed last week near the end of the fed­eral elec­tion cam­paign, I asked Mr. D’Arcy to com­ment on the fact that the arts and cul­ture didn’t seem to be on any of the par­ties’ agen­das this time around, he an­swered: “The Academie des Beaux Arts (who re­cently gave him the Academia award) are the only ones who or­ga­nize a gala for artists in Que­bec.”

Al­though Gae­tan now earns his liv­ing only through his art, he ad­mit­ted: “I don’t have many clients but I have good ones. I’ve reached the point in my ca­reer where I’m al­ways work­ing on spe­cial or­ders. C’est le fun!”

Peo­ple in­ter­ested in view­ing Mr. D’Arcy’s work can visit his web­site at www.lesmo­saiques­ or visit his Ma­gog stu­dio, this sum­mer, dur­ing the Cir­cuits des Arts Mem­phrem­a­gog. He is this year’s pres­i­dent.

photo Vic­to­ria Vanier

Gae­tan D’Arcy holds a beau­ti­ful rock that he found on his prop­erty and pol­ished, to use later in a mo­saic.

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