Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Alain Mailland: Sculptor, Artist, Artisan of Wood

Recently, we were having a discussion about what is the difference between artists and artisans. Looking up the two definitions, it read that artists create art such as: painting,sculpting,music or writing; whereas artisans "workers who practice a trade or handicraft." These definitions seem, at best, not fitting for so many. For example, where does creativity start and commercialism end?



If pushed, I'd say someone like Alain Mailland is both artist and artisan. Not only does he sculpt wood into the most unique forms, but he also sells his sculptures.




Mailland was born on the Ivory Coast and moved with his family to France as a child. In his early 20s, he studied at the National Art School and worked as a construction carpenter and mason. It was at age 28 that he took his first course in wood turning. 

 He made his living making interior wood works until he made the decision to move into the world of wood sculpting. After that, he devoted himself to mastering the lathe and making special tools to achieve his sculptures.

Using mainly roots from trees in the French countryside where he lives, he identifies the different colors that a tree produces from the heartwood to the roots or sapwood. In that way, he plans for the creation of natural color contrasts as he sculpts. 

"There is a correspondence between all the species living on earth. You can find animal or mineral shapes in roots and vegetable forms, and in stone or bones. We humans are linked with all things growing on the earth. This is what I feel when I make my sculptures."

 Mailland is one of Europe's foremost wood sculptors, specializing in turning and sculpting exquisite organic shapes. He also teaches his techniques. You could way worse than taking a class from this master artist/artisan.




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