Young artist uses old methods to create contemporary pieces of art.
Morgan MacDonald is the sculptor behind some of Newfoundland and Labrador’s most remarkable bronze statues, often showcasing the province’s diverse culture and rich history.
Among MacDonald’s works are The Rower at Quidi Vidi Lake, A Time located in the center of downtown, Skater Girl in Bannerman Park, Newfoundland’s memorial to the missing in St. John’s and Danger Tree commemorating the anniversary of Beaumont-Hamel in Corner Brook. These pieces are created in MacDonald’s large work space, the Newfoundland Bronze Foundry in St. John’s. MacDonald’s creations can be found as close as George Street and as far away as Belgium.
MacDonald, a graduate of Sir Winfield Grenfell’s fine arts program, began sculpting as a hobby in high school. From there he started exploring what it was to sculpt and model clay.
MacDonald cast his first bronze work in 2007 in a small backyard garage. The hard part for bronze sculptors is for them to find a foundry to cast their work.
“If you want to create a bronze sculpture, the next step is to take it to a foundry,” said MacDonald.
With no foundries in Newfoundland, MacDonald built his own.
“It was just the logical step,” he said.
An additional difficulty for MacDonald was finding staff.
“One of the challenges is training staff to know the skills to produce the work,” MacDonald said.
Another is finding people to commission his work.
“It’s the same as with a small business owner – just looking to have people wanting to work with you in creating a sculpture.” he said.
MacDonald’s drive is a simple one.
“The simple enjoyment of sculpting. That’s what drives me – just trying to find something cool and fun to sculpt and meeting people and learning new subject matter and just diving into the interest in that.”
Wayne Miller, chairman of the Conception Bay South monument of honour committee, says the young artist cares deeply about his work and why he does it.
“He deeply cares about what he’s doing,” said Miller. “He’s a perfectionist but one who puts feeling into his work.”
When creating a sculpture to honour an individual, MacDonald will seek input from family members before starting, such as when he travelled to Moncton to meet with the families of three slain police officers who were gunned down in June, 2014.
“Whether it’s a monument to police or firemen, he includes the family,” said Miller. “He’s a tremendous guy. Just an amazing young man.”
One project MacDonald is trying to get off the ground is one honouring first responders to last year’s Fort McMurray wildfire.
“This is a wonderful venue to try to do something on a big scale and recognize the uplifting spirit of the community – that sense of coming together as opposed to something somber.”