Artisan sculptors

Longueuil, Quebec, Canada

Photo : Pierre Guzzo 

A four-handed tandem


Games and toys are as old as the world. Born at the dawn of humanity, games would appear to have helped socialize, educate and instruct us, contributing greatly to our development. Toys have a timeless, universal appeal. They beckon us to come closer, pick them up and play with them. They enchant and captivate us. This shared fascination is what first brought us together while we were art students at Concordia University.


From our very first creations[lm1] , the areas that continue to interest us are wooden toys, articulated objects and sculpture. Without limiting our expression to those media, they are a vital component of our approach and aims.


We are inspired by traditional crafts and vintage articulated wooden toys. We love taking their mechanisms — often very rudimentary — as our starting point, then modifying them, adding complexity and incorporating them into our toy sculptures. What drives us is the desire to see our ideas take shape in three-dimensional volumes. From the start, we have focused on the beauty of bare wood. We love to play on the contrast between rough and smooth surfaces. Essentially, our toy sculptures result from a lengthy process of exploring the object’s kinetic qualities, the toy’s aesthetics, the balance of volumes and tints and the beauty of wood. Each piece is then personalized through the addition of vibrant colour.


Over the years, the songs, sayings and writings of our contemporaries have become the force of creation that awakens our muse and feeds our imaginings. Words touch us, bring us alive, carry us away or make us smile. Writing sets our imaginations alight and makes us want to translate what we read into sculptural volumes. Our tandem process consists of two heads, four hands, the collusion of two imaginations and the dexterity of two artisans.


Unique works of art

When, at the turn of the millennium, the Conseil montérégien de la culture et des communications invited us to take part in a group show on the theme of the “poetic object,” we took inspiration from C'est le vieux Pipo, a nursery rhyme by Gilles Vigneault. The piece that resulted (Au fil de l’eau) was a sailboat. From there, travelling from one work to the next, our little boat, sails wide open, took us to the land of the circus. Fantasmagorie, our first toy sculpture solo show, nodded to the grand circus tradition of the 19th and 20th centuries. Creating these works was a playful process that involved adopting a child’s gaze and having a lot of fun — we won’t deny it!


In 2009, our heads filled with images evoked by the works of Michel Tremblay, we received the author’s blessing to render, in toy sculptures, our impressions of his relationships with adults and child’s view of the world. Jouer avec Michel Tremblay, quand le texte devient matière was our first show based on the works of a contemporary Québec author. Our hearts and imaginations then took us toward the uniquely whimsical writings of Fred Pellerin. From one exagérance to the next, guided by his colourful and highly personal words, we created La boîte à jouets de Fred in 2013, a show that is currently touring.


For some time now, we have been immersed in the poetic, dramatic world of Kim Thuy. The exhibition is due to open in 2016.


Hope to see you soon!




© SOCAN - Viatour-Berthiaume 2020