Kirk Hampson's Sculpted Bliss

I am an assemblage artist... I sculpt with found metals. I believe the recycled metal has a large amount of energy already in it, which lends to the piece itself. I enjoy seeing and hearing the reactions from people when they first see my artwork, more often it’s the kids who reveal they’re true reflections from it. Good or bad.

Back in 1969 my parents first arrived in Fernie, BC. Twenty five years later my two sons would introduce me to they’re pottery sculpting class. Fifteen years later I found myself following my universal pathway to San Francisco, and two sculptural studios. There I would become a key person in building one of the most beautiful sculptures to ever be shown at Burning Man (a festival of the arts held in the Nevada desert). This shock wave went around the art world. The visionary artist Marco Cochrane and his style of sculpting are unheard of, unique, and because this was a pioneer project I committed to helping him for two months. After that time came to an end, I felt compelled to help him complete his vision.

Nine months of straight fabrication later we completed the project. Without any computer generation, everything was hand measured, hand cut, tac welded, finished welded, quality control... and the list goes on. We converted two piles of steel, into a forty-foot female nude sculpture, which stands on one leg in a dancing pose. She weighs in at nine thousand pounds, she’s lucent, and at forty feet in the air, you can sit in her chin. I am one of many who helped build her. I delegated and taught other volunteers. I worked every day. I slept and showered at the North Beach Hotel in downtown San Francisco, in the middle of China Town, the Finical District and Peeler Avenue. My two dollars gave me a bus ride over the Bay Bridge to Treasure Island everyday to Bliss Dance’s studio. Primarily, I was the finish welder. They say Bliss Dance has 50,000 welds, I counted a couple more than that. I can say that I welded 98% her. I was the bolt up guy during installations and breakdowns, and a go to guy for anyone who needed help.

I realized that it takes a lot of people to create sculpture, especially large scale. Considering San Francisco has a large community in the arts, I took it upon myself to begin filming these studios at work. Installations down town, creating at the Del Rosa Gallery in Napa Valley, and eventually focusing in on capturing six collective sculptural groups from the Bay area, who would be showcasing their work at Burning Man. The Bliss Dance shock wave opened many studio doors for me and allowed me to bring my cameras through artist’s doors and into their studios. The filming took a better part of nine months, which I’m currently editing, and if everything works out right I’ll be able to launch my documentary The Race to Burning Man: a Sculptural Quest in Amsterdam sometime soon.

My sculpting is at a much slower pace these days considering the shift in my work. But, if you sit at the back of Freshies coffee shop on one of the picnic tables, you’ll see “My Little Tornado”. Across the railroad tracks is yet another sculpture of mine that is on loan to Vic Bossio’s Recycling Yard. Or, you might have finished skiing and are waiting for a ride in the parking lot, relaxing on an over sized pair of ski poles. This is also one of my sculptures. Many more are scattered in the area, but are privately owned.

Once the snow clears, I’ll be focusing in on creating a new body of work in Fernie along with filmmaking, and an assortment of art related things.

Kirk Hampson was the first “green” artist featured in the Fernie Fix. To learn more about his work please visit www.kirkhampson.ca and www.blissdance.us.