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John Greer:

Art is a language

8 March 2023 | 35 minutes

John Greer, wax modelling, 2022

Professor of sculpture for 26 years at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, John Greer was the catalyst for the ‘Halifax Sculpture’ movement in the 1990s which was rooted in minimalism and conceptualism.

Inspiration for his sculpture often comes from ancient Celtic stones and Greek sculpture and he likes the merging of cultural and natural history.

He discusses a number of projects he's created over the years. The photographs here by Gail Skoff show some of his more recent works.

John Greer, washing Fuse, 2013, Iranian travertine, 170 × 145 × 45 cm

John Greer, washing Balanced, 2016, 153 × 95 × 100 cm

John has created about a dozen pieces based on the theme of value and he explains here why he finds the invention and history of money so fascinating. He speaks about the geology of materials and how he takes this into account when choosing what stone to work with.

John Greer, Spade, part of A Brief History of Money, 2014

John Greer, Bridge, part of A Brief History of Money, 2014

John Greer, Chest of Mysteries, 2018–19, 52 × 19 × 160 cm

The Sleeper and The Rose (2021) were inspired by a Greek piece. John discusses how we live in a time when western culture is trying to come to terms with its history and its colonial past. He feels it's important to let go without forgetting.

John Greer, The Sleeper, 2021, Portuguese marble and travertine, 60 × 90 × 82 cm

John Greer, The Rose, 2021, Portuguese marble and travertine, 70 × 37 × 42 cm

John’s series on Sirens was inspired by Greek figures. Sometimes used as a memorial, sometimes to mark an event and sometimes as a real person. John explains how once, figurative sculptures such as these were considered another person and that aristocrats regarded it as humiliating to walk behind such a 'person'. This is why the Louvre positioned such pieces against the walls.

Born in Canada, John now shares a studio in Pietrasanta with his wife, the sculptor Vanessa Paschakarnis and a lively community of frogs.

John Greer and Vanessa Paschakarnis

Thanks to Gail Skoff for this collaboration and for the fantastic photographs of John.

Gail Skoff: –


Producer: Sarah Monk

Sound edit/design: Guy Dowsett

Music: courtesy of Audio Network

  • Floating, Mark Johns

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