Andrew Lamb’s beautiful alabaster sculpture, called True Strength, won the best sculpture award from the Scarborough Art Guild.

By Kathy McGrath

When an artist works with a blank canvas, the sky’s the limit on what can be created. Working with stone is a different story.

“You look at a piece of stone and you wait for it to tell you what it wants to be,” Andrew Lamb explained. He recently won the best sculpture award from the Scarborough Art Guild. His winning piece, called True Strength: Mother and Cub, was recently displayed at the Guild’s fall show at the Centennial Recreation Centre.

The sculpture, made of alabaster, depicts a female figure with a disproportionately large fist protecting a small animal. The Guild jury said the piece “elicited a sense of strength, but also carried an emotional surprise with the tiny animal sheltered to one side.”

Andrew discovered his aptitude for art during his university days in Edinburgh, thanks largely to an inspiring art teacher. While he eventually made his living in the Toronto business world as an accountant and information technology specialist, he always balanced his professional life with art classes.

“It’s very relaxing to do hands-on things that give you tangible results,” he said. “You’re still using the brain but in a different way.”

Many years ago, he started doing watercolours and life drawing and progressed to sculpting with clay after signing up for classes at West Hill Collegiate and then Cedar Ridge Creative Centre.

While he enjoys working free form with clay, Andrew noticed he often waited until his figures turned leather hard, at which point he would start sculpting them. That led to his work with alabaster and soapstone, which can be carved with files and chisels.

Once a piece of raw stone suggests a certain figure, it takes patience to determine how much to take away and how much to leave. “Clay is very malleable – if you make a mistake, you can put it back – while stone is the exact opposite,” Andrew said. “You have to be extremely careful. Sometimes I’ll start something and then I have to put it away for a while.”

While Andrew’s clay sculptures are more abstract, he tends to realism when working

in stone. His experience in life drawing (the human figure) is useful when sculpting his figures. This is apparent in a soapstone piece he made called Waiting for Fish, which depicts an Inuit hunter crouched with a spear.

Before COVID hit, Andrew and other practiced sculptors rented studio space at Cedar Ridge Creative Centre where they worked together, discussing technique and sharing discoveries. Over the years he has created about 25 stone figures and countless designs in clay. His work has won awards in many juried shows. He has sold a few, but he says Canadians are much more inclined to buy paintings.

Besides the Scarborough Art Guild shows, Andrew has displayed his work at the Scarborough Civic Centre, the Cedar Ridge Studio Gallery and, most recently, at the new Clark Creative Centre in Guildwood.

A long-time Scarborough resident, Andrew lives with his wife, Susan, in Centennial.