Get your poppies Friday
Angels come to North Hatley
Sherbrooke’s David Martel will tell you that he’s found his life’s mission, and I’m sure anyone who has seen him working on that special work of art on the ceiling of North Hatley’s Interfaith Spiritual Church would probably agree. A man of two careers, one as a fulltime envi-
ronmental engineer and the other as an artist who specializes in ‘Rock Art’, averaging twenty to forty international exhibitions each year, Mr. Martel began painting the church’s ceiling two years ago.
His evolving work on the church’s ceiling features several of the most unusual, yet beautiful, angels I have ever seen: David Martel’s famous ‘Anges Bleus’. “My career with the Blue Angels began about twenty years ago. Since I was young, I had always felt that I was being helped by something. Then, in 1992, I was in a more difficult time. I found a rock at the Beauvoir Sanctuary and painted my first blue angel on that rock, as a kind of prayer to ask for help,” explained Mr. Martel in an interview at the church in North Hatley. “After I painted a few more, I understood my vocation in life: to bring a message of peace to the world.”
Although he admitted that not everyone admires his angels, many people are both captivated and fascinated by their powerful and unusually coloured forms. “Blue is a high-frequency colour, the colour of communication, the colour of the heavens; it’s a colour that wakes people up. When I first tried to sell my blue angels painted on rock, I brought them to a store in North Hatley. The owner looked at them and said ‘No’. So I asked her to just keep them for a week and then I’d call her. When I called her back, she said ‘Bring me more!’”
Determination, perseverance, serendipity, luck, and perhaps even a guardian angel have all played important roles in David’s life mission during the last twenty years, resulting in the artist being able to bring his Blue Angels to people all over the world. He has created some on rocks only a foot wide and others on massive monoliths of granite weighing several thousand pounds, exhibiting in such places as the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Giza, the Mexican Pyramids of Chichenitza and Machu Picchu. “It took ten years of logistical planning to exhibit at Machu Picchu in 2004. I’ll be returning there this year.” His angels on stone have been shown in caves in the Amazon jungle and under water in the Caribbean Sea, in Nicaragua and in a water-filled quarry in Thetford Mines. “I painted huge angels on transparent stone, mica, and we stood them up in the water. The divers loved them.”
Patrons of Quebec City’s or Mont Tremblant’s ice hotels may also have seen some of Mr. Martel’s angels. “I did ‘live painting’ of an angel at the ice hotel on a huge piece of ice. I had to re-paint the angel every two weeks because the paint would slowly come off the ice.”
Many of Mr. Martel’s smaller angels, always painted on stone, have made their way into the hands of some interesting people. “I was invit- ed by the Chilean Ambassador to visit the warship Esmeralda when she was at Quebec City, so I painted a work for the captain; the angel had wings like the masts of a ship and its hand was touching water, painted on Lapus Lazuli. I have exposed in difficult places, places of conflict, but I always do it with respect, without judging. So, although the Esmeralda had a dark past, I asked the captain to transport the angel back to his country.”
He has been asked to create works for Robert Kennedy Junior and our own Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, delivering them in person. “I’ve already made a prototype, with ultra-light rock and thermic paint, of a work that I’m doing for the astronaut Chris Hadfield who is familiar with the Blue Angels. He’ll be bringing it up to the Space Station.” David’s also creating a work to commemorate an old school principal from his childhood years in Victoriaville. “I was engraving on stones when I was ten. One day, the school’s principal called my name on the intercom to go to his office,” he explained. Sure that he was in trouble, once at the office the principal told David he had gone for a walk in the forest by the school and saw rocks with the name “David” engraved on them. “Did you make those rocks? They were very nice,” said the principal to a surprised young boy. “In a way, he really encouraged me.”
Asked if the significance of the angels had changed over the years, the artist replied: “I’m always searching for the significance of the angels. If I could say that I’ve seen blue angels, I’d probably sell more of them. But they are just the carriers of a good message – the hope of peace. I expose my work in natural settings or at sacred sites; it’s not always the work that’s important, but the observation. Once, a man came into the church when I was painting. He said, ‘That angel in the corner is me and the star beside him is my father, who just died.’ It’s the perception of the viewer that is important.”
When Mr. Martel is working on the church’s ceiling, which is usually on the weekend, he sets up a sign outside the church door, welcoming people to come in. “Visitors can come in and ask questions or just look around. They have the right to influence and inspire me!”
David Martel, seen here in the Interfaith Church in North Hatley, will take another year to complete his Blue Angels on the church’s ceiling.