New Brunswick

'Working like a caveman': Jim Boyd working on new sculpture for Hampton

For the past four years, a massive block of marble has been waiting for Jim Boyd at Hampton’s Public Works yard, and this summer the sculptor is finally getting a chance to make something out of it.

Town of Hampton finds funding to complete project

Jim Boyd says his sculpture will reflect the Town of Hampton's appreciation for the outdoors. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

For the past four years, a massive block of marble has been waiting for Jim Boyd at Hampton's Public Works yard, and this summer the sculptor is finally getting a chance to make something out of it.

Many will know Boyd's work from his participation in both of the biennial Sculpture Saint John Symposiums. While he may have grown accustomed to chipping away on the Saint John waterfront, this time he's working away from prying public eyes.  

"A few people have found me," Boyd said while leaning against his future creation.

Under a pop-up tent, Boyd is working among piles of gravel at the Logie Drive yard.

"It's kind of an industrial spot," he said, "there's dump trucks coming and going."

Town funds project

The location is appropriate since Boyd is creating the sculpture for the town. Originally he had applied for an NB Arts Grant for the project, but he didn't get it. 

"I was starting to think I would have the summer off to do work on smaller things, like paint my house or mow my lawn," he said.

Jim Boyd says he has been waiting four years to carve something from the massive block of marble. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

But it turned out Boyd had piqued the interest of town officials, who wanted to see his vision become a reality.

They managed to come up with some sort of grant to fund the project," he said.

Once it's chiseled down, the completed sculpture will stand about 10-feet-tall and will be installed near the start of Hampton's leg of the Trans Canada Trail. With its location in mind, Boyd is sculpting the marble into a piece that will reflect the town's appreciation for the outdoors.  

Nature inspiration for carving

"Hampton's motto is 'It's Our Nature' so the sculpture's going to be inspired by natural elements," Boyd said.

The subject matter comes easily to Boyd, who said he spends as much time as he can kayaking and snowshoeing in the town.

"I'm inspired by very beautiful shapes and forms. They're kind of timeless images."

While it's hot, dirty work, Boyd is conscious of how lucky he is to be commissioned by the town.

"Hampton's really supportive of the arts" he said, pointing to other pieces of public art dotting the town. "I think art in our community is really important and Hampton's supported the arts for generations."

Jim Boyd carved the Peace Wing sculpture in 2014. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Anyone who has driven through the town's roundabout, will be familiar with Boyd's 2014 'Peace Wing' sculpture. Carved in the first sculpture symposium, Boyd accepted the town's request to commemorate famed Hampton local John Peters Humphrey. Boyd's carved the tribute to the author of the UN Declaration of Human Rights with a large sculpture of a dove's wing with an olive branch.

His latest project is labour intensive, but Boyd said he finds the process incredibly gratifying.

"You know, working like a cave man," he said with a grin. "You try and come up with an interesting project by the end."

Boyd plans on having the sculpture finished for the town by August 22.

About the Author

Matthew Bingley is a CBC reporter based in Saint John.