|Bruce Turnbull, for the better part of two decades, has lived and worked just a few miles
from the rural village of Kahakuloa on Maui's rugged northeastern coast. It is the perfect
setting for this Master Sculptor who takes his cues from nature and all things peaceful.
The clear, calm, disciplined oriental influence that is evident in the artist's demeanor is also evident in his work place. A subscriber to the Japanese concept of the importance of negative space, he purposefully leaves wood chips and sawdust on the floor of his studio. He tells us that "What you take away from a piece is as important as what's left when you're finished."
Turnbull's "dream" comes into focus in his sculpture garden. The land is, in fact, an ancient Hawaiian garden; the old stone walls almost hidden but still standing.
"I chose this place because of my alliance with nature. 1 need to fit in with nature, not exploit it. He moved to Maui in 1968, returning to San Jose State University in 1970 to study under renowned American sculptor Wendell Gates The following year, Turnbull earned his Master's degree in Fine Arts, and his master's project · a dramatic bronze sculptor of a gymnast · today graces the government building in Wailuku, Maui's county seat.
It was during the time he returned to San Jose for his master's degree that Turnbull gathered the confidence one needs to make a living from art. And much of that confidence came from his teacher, Wendell Gates, who remained his advisor even after he had retired from teaching and Turnbull had returned to Maui. In December 1984, advanced Parkinson's disease forced Gates to retire from sculpting altogether. The following month, Turnbull received a gift: his teacher's tools; a kind of sculptor's torch being passed. Turnbull views it not only as an honor, but also as an awesome responsibility.
Of his work with wood, he says. "The design is already there. I simply bring it to life by taking away what hides it."
Because of its strength, Turnbull says, "Bronze allows me a greater range of interpretation. With bronze I can be more innovative. Bronze has a timeless quality which only improves with age".
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