"This reclaimed church pew was part of a fundraiser for the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which raises money and awareness for HIV/AIDS in sub- Saharan Africa. Seven artists from various disciplines were asked to re-imagine a church pew and turn it into a one of a kind collectable to be auctioned off.
I chose a mountain biking theme, both a personal passion of mine and the something regarded with religious zeal in my part of the world. While the piece is meant to be tongue in cheek, true aficionados get the spiritual aspect of riding: it allows you to commune with Nature in ways that are contemplative and terrifying, awe-inspiring and jaw-dropping. In short, mountain biking is everything a religion should be.
I began by stripping the old finish off the pew to assess the quality of the wood. A pale blond maple, I decided to leave areas of the bench untouched by paint so the grain of the wood could be seen. I designed a single flowing image that would fit the long horizontal shape of the back bench. I executed the original art in brush and ink, then scanned it and converted it to vectors. From there, I selected a muted colour palette characterized by a vibrant orange that runs along the wooden slat bridge. I transferred the line art to the back of the pew and used solid alkyd wood stains to work in. Because stain is thinner than standard paint everything required two coats. I wanted the art to have a distinct graphic feel.
I applied tire tracks to the seat and side panels, then applied a clear gloss finish to the bench back and seat. As is my nature, I worked on the bench right up until the last moment, delivering the day before the auction, denying the bench a week of public previews.
The pew ended up being purchased by my doctor, which is amusing, since I know he has had to treat his fare share of bike crash victims. The price of piety."