From time immemorial man has been fascinated by the beauty and variety of stone. Denise Gray’s original and often whimsical creations manage to capture the observer’s imagination, evoking emotions and breathing life into a “heart of stone.” Denise, of Pebble Art by Denise, retired in 2013 after dedicating 28 years to her career working as a Manager at (The Contact Centre)with the Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation.
This warm and engaging “mom” to two greyhounds ( Cooper and Guinness)] and wife to co-artist Brian Gray found that she finally had the time to devote to exploring her creative side. Denise professes to be a “self-taught” artist, and when asked how she decided to focus on working with her medium of choice she promptly responded “You can say it found me.”
While spending time at their cottage at Lakeshore Heights south of Grand Marais on Lake Winnipeg, Denise and Brian would walk along the shore, hand-picking interestingly shaped pebbles, stones, pieces of driftwood and ‘sea’ glass. These bits of nature were destined to become Denise’s medium of choice … the water worn pebbles which washed up along the lake’s shoreline seemingly determined to whisper their stories to her, encompassing the eons of time it took to shape them.
As Manitoba’s geological landscape is made up mostly of Precambrian age and sedimentary rocks, or in layman’s terms, limestones, dolomites, shales and sandstones, these lighter types of rock take on any number of shapes and forms as they erode over time. As seen through the artist’s eyes, however, these simple shapes and forms metamorphosed into the heads, bodies and limbs of various characters or took the shapes of animals, birds and celestial bodies.
Denise creates endearing 3D pictures of people, life events, nature and more. Denise confessed that, while admittedly some seashells and other items were collected while on holiday to more exotic locations, the bulk of her sandstone pieces originate from the shores around Hillside Beach, Balsam Bay, Island Beach and Lakeshore Heights, while the shale pieces come from the shores of Lake Superior.
Referring to searching for pieces that speak to her as ‘spelunking’, Denise enthusiastically described the thrill of finding these treasures and then putting them aside until they are ready to tell their story. Most, although certainly not all, of the finished pebble artworks are mounted in shadow boxes to protect them.
Denise’s work is on display at The Pulse Gallery, Johnston Terminal, The Forks and at the Scrap Came Back gift shop on St. Anne’s Road in Winnipeg. You can also find her online at Pinterest and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pebbleartbydenise/ and Instagram # pebbleartbydenise. Pictures shown are unframed in order to display correctly.