Summer 2022

Iris Casey

Bringing wire sculpture and mosaic to life

By Jennifer Shea

Fine Arts, Prince Edward County

Iris Casey

Stonedragon Studio’s website greets visitors with fanciful wire sculptures of various types of birds. Further exploration of artist Casey Casey’s wire gallery introduces more of these detailed sculptures, along with their names. “When I’m creating my creatures, I try to give them a little bit of personality, so they evoke a memory or create a smile when somebody’s looking at them,” says Casey. “They all have a personality, so they have to have names.”

An affinity for birds is in Casey’s blood. Her mother was keenly interested in birds, her daughter became a wildlife biologist, and Casey volunteered as a bird bander. A move to Carrying Place upon her retirement as a science teacher 14 years ago has allowed Casey and her family to be closer to the inspiration of nature. It also gave her much more time to focus on her artistic pursuits.

Casey had taken a variety of sculpting courses over the years, but she learned how to work with wire from artist/sculptor Chuck O’Neil. “I just loved the feel of the wire and the way it flowed and how I could create creatures from it. I fell in love with it.”

Casey can often be found scouring junkyards and antique markets looking for pieces that speak to her. “I think about how I can incorporate them, especially with my crows. I started them during the pandemic because I needed something to amuse myself. It was fun finding bits and pieces that went with an aviator or a gladiator or a hippy.”

One of her wire sculptures that hold fond memories for Casey is now in the home of a collector. “It was pretty much a full-sized hawk perched on the edge of a fence post ready to fly off.” This piece was created as part of a program matching artists in Prince Edward County with authors in England. Casey got matched up with a gentleman who wrote a poem about her raptor.

Casey’s other artistic medium of choice is mosaic. “In my mosaic work, the excitement lies in the juxtaposition of pieces. I want to create a statement of colour, of movement, of texture, of an emotion captured.” Casey’s mosaic pieces can be flat, but often are three-dimensional. “I seem to have a fascination for mannequins. There was a place in north Toronto that had thousands of them. Every once in a while, I’d go down there and find a piece. 

The pieces sit in my studio sometimes for years until I look at them one day and say, ‘Oh. I know what I can do with that now’. It just sort of evolves. I’ll add something to it until I’m happy with it.”

Casey’s ultimate goal is to get a response from people when they look at her work, whether it evokes a memory, a smile or a laugh. Her pieces can be found by chance at her Stonedragon Studio in Carrying Place, Arts on Main Gallery in Picton, or Gallery 121 in downtown Belleville.

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