Friday, 14 September 2012

axes transformed: Maskull Lasserre

Maskull Lasserre vintage old woodworking tool upcycled wood sculpture snake skeleton skull wooden axe
wooden snake skeleton carving faragott balta kígyó csontváz fafaragás
I was rambling on about vintage tools in my last post, so rambly and random that I even wondered if anyone would read it past the first paragraph. While all along I was really wanting to write about the art of Maskull Lasserre.

But, you see, his artwork pushes buttons in me and gets me rambling about emotion and thought processes stemming in childhood memories. So who is this artist, with the intriguing name and button-pushing powers?

I have never known of anyone before with the name Maskull - it sounds anciently Nordic, robust and even viking to my ears. 

Yet he was born in South Africa, in 1978, in the same year as me. He was named after the protagonist of an early Scottish sci-fi novel. His family moved to Canada when he was a small child. 

Now, his name synonymous with contemporary Canadian art, he produces pieces of artwork that have me craving for exhibition trips beyond my reach. They get my inner Sherlock guessing the motives behind his pieces, trying to unravel the artistic thought processes by studying their form and detail as much as the pixels let me. 

I'm wishing that I could see them for real and up close, and even wear some of them out (they are my size, you know!) for a subzero pub crawl once the Nordic winter hits here...

Maskull Lasserre art artist studio axe work in progress
Maskull Lasserre artist carved wooden sculpture upcycled axe snake skeleton bones skull carving

I love his wood carvings - the snake skeleton axe is mesmerising with its delicate imbalance. A filigree wooden structure tailing off into a weathered metal axe head.

This piece is in constant conversation with itself. 
The airy beauty of the skeletal snake reveals a new dimension in the wooden handle while reducing the strong grip of the original tool to a fragile husk. The carved handle is upsetting the very nature of the object, rendering it full of tension, transforming it on multiple levels - changing its role, its appearance, its visual, physical and symbolic values. 
In response, the axe-ness of the object is threatening with a sense of self-destruction by breaking into smithereens - it's shape still echoes the original utility, still asking for being picked up like an axe. 

So precious, so intriguing and thought-provoking. The way I love art.

I found a video feature on him - in which he speaks about his own childhood memories and how they influence his creativity. 

Alongside the snake axe (called Secret Carpentry) many more of his wood carvings are shown - including another favourite of mine, the 'Murder of Crows' filmed in the making.


I don't know about you, but his artwork appeals to me on many different levels - beside the humour, the visual intrigue and emotive trigger, the way he uses found objects is one. I'm not keen to say 'upcycle' here, but I really like that he takes old objects and literally carves a new meaning into them.

If you'd like to see more of Maskull's art you can find the full body of his work on his website.

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