Otherworldly wolves, ravens and moons

Sandra Storey's art literally leaps off the walls. Wednesday night one of her clay wolves featured at Gallery 22 decapitated itself and tumbled to the ground. Amazingly, nothing broke.

Sandra Storey’s art literally leaps off the walls.

Wednesday night one of her clay wolves featured at Gallery 22 decapitated itself and tumbled to the ground.

Amazingly, nothing broke.

An industrial hanger was to blame and Storey was able to let out a huge sigh of relief.

She spent just over two months rolling, firing and painting about 20 clay sculptures for her show Small Changes.

It’s an exceptional amount of work for such a short period of time.

Losing her job this past June gave her the opportunity to work 14-hour days on her art.

But it wasn’t a happy fact, at first.

“When I lost my job, that threw me for a loop,” said Storey.

“I had a lot of my identity wrapped up in it.”

No longer having her job to rely on, she turned to her art full-steam.

“I started stripping back the trappings of what I thought made my life.”

There’s a certain darkness that arises from Storey’s exhibit.

She draws on mythologies and animal legends from around the world to create fantastical pieces like armoured wolves, personified moons and goat shamans.

It’s an exhibit that doesn’t work everywhere with audiences.

“People in New Zealand would look at my work and think its freaky and dark,” she said explaining the country has no predatory animals and as such, very little folklore.

“But people here see it.”

Storey was born and raised in the Yukon.

After she attended the Emily Carr School of Art and Design for four years, she decided to jump on a 10.6-metre sailboat and speed off to New Zealand.

She lived there for 12 years doing clay work on the side.

“I hated the artwork I did there though,” she said.

“I was mostly creating ponies and birds for the rich farmers in the area.”

Eventually she was called back to the Yukon by her ailing parents.

It was about time.

“I was getting homesick,” said Storey.

Because of New Zealand’s dampness, she was also spending two to three months a year in the hospital with her asthma. She had to carry a portable respirator everywhere she went.

It was this life-long illness that influenced her path as an artist.

As a child she spent long periods of time in the hospital. With nothing else to do, she read mythology books and sculpted plasticine figures.

In high school, she studied under artist Ted Harrison who encouraged her to take up clay.

That set off a 20-year relationship with the medium.

Small Changes flaunts Storey’s experienced and creative handling of clay.

The piece We All Go Round and Round, a collection of ravens and rabbits chasing each other, was fired not in a kiln, but in a pit of leaves and sawdust for 24 hours. The ultimate effect is a burnt almond colour.

She incorporates twigs, leaves and straw into her work and uses oxides, a traditional method to paint her clay.

And all her clay is recycled from art classes Storey has taught in the past.

Still jobless, she has decided to establish herself as a full-time artist in the Yukon.

She already has another show planned for the spring with potter Larry DuGuay.

However, she wants to focus her efforts on selling her artwork outside the territory.

“I don’t want to saturate the market here,” she said.

You can check out Storey’s work at Gallery 22 above Triple J’s music until October 16.

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com