Charles Clark has been submerged in the arts since his early days. A watershed event in his life took place at the age of 10 when Tom Forrestall painted a picture of three children at a swimming hole. Charles was one of those children. He was amazed at how Forrestall used his brush to make the scene come alive. As an artist, Clark has employed the same techniques he saw Forrestall use, so embedded is that day in his memory. As a teenager, Clark transformed a bicycle into a motorcycle, using found objects from his father’s garage and auto salvage business.
Trained as a metal fabricator, Clark later became a sign maker, honing his bas-relief carving skills through his employment at Valley Graphics in Fredericton and through private commissions. In 2005, Clark became a protégé of master woodcarver and Atlantic Salmon guide, Bill Page. As Page approached his death from cancer, he asked Clark to finish his final large scale bas-relief piece featuring Atlantic salmon. Page told Clark “I want you to have all my carving tools, but on one condition: don’t carve garden gnomes. Do something important, like fish.” Still using old “blanks” of black cherry and other wood originally collected by Page, some of which are now 15 to 25 years old giving them additional character, Clark also collects his own supply from New Brunswick’s forests. Each fresh piece of hardwood is allowed to cure for a minimum of one year and then roughed out to a blank and allowed to dry further for one year per inch of thickness.
Clark also creates beautiful turned wood vessels from tree burls and spalted wood. Iconic New Brunswick wood turner, Gordon Dunphy, whom he met in the 1990’s, exerted a strong influence on Clark’s creative methods. Dunphy shared with Clark his secrets for creating an exceptionally fine finish for his superb bowls and vases. Clark also shares Dunphy’s aesthetic sensibilities in both the ability to discover and highlight the exquisite beauty of the wood and to allow its characteristics and voice to guide the composition.