Many people, complaining about their jobs, might use the phrase “stubborn as a rock” in reference to a coworker.
Molly McClung knows what many people mean, and in most cases, would put them to shame.
A sculptor, gardener, and former schoolteacher, Molly has worked with rather difficult mediums throughout her life. Stone is as determined to stay as it is, where it is, as plants and children are to not. Years of persuading the uncompromising to compromise show through in her sculpture, as naturally purposeful as they are gently durable.
Situated in a calm residential suburb, behind a tended lawn, shrubs, and flowers, sits her house. Stepping inside, I turn and am presented by a room with over a dozen pieces of varying size, stone, and shape, all in various stages of being packed up and delivered to Studio 22. Passing the sculptures, we descend a small corner staircase into the basement, and enter Molly’s studio.
I am struck first by how clean it is, and she mentions going over it in preparation for the visit, but it is an amazing feat. I have no experience with the amount of dust kicked up by a sculptor working stone, but have the impression that it is more than I imagine. A corner table supports two great halves of a stone, split diagonally, that she says will be matching pieces. Turning behind us to the opposite wall, she pulls a hacksaw from a hook under the steel ductwork she shares the space with, the likes of which I’ve never seen before; the blade a centimetre-thick rod with a surface textured like steel sandpaper. It’s used for major cuts that she doesn’t have made beforehand, Molly explains, before moving on to her extremely fine squares of sandpaper – designed for auto body work.
Returning to the first floor, I began to take a closer look at the room of pieces we had passed earlier. Molly explained how the new show, aptly titled “Curves,” draws inspiration from the natural female figure, and its contrast with the jagged roughness of raw stone. She picks up different pieces, drawing the curtain back with her other hand to hold them in the light and demonstrate how the light shines through the translucent stone, giving it a beautiful inner glow.
Speaking with Molly McClung gives you a sense of her no-nonsense air of control, and her work shows it to you. The stone has been persuaded to compromise and Molly is its teacher, its tender. She chisels life and humanity into a medium that is known for lacking both, and does it well.
Stepping out of the house, I found myself thinking of the quip on her shirt – “Gardening would be genteel were it not for all that icky dirt” – and remembering never to walk across a gardener’s lawn.
by Owen Darrah