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Originally Published On:

August 29, 2017

Originally Published By:

Haliburton Echo

To Cut or Not to Cut

Written By:

Angus Sullivan

To Cut or Not to Cut was created by John Beachli in 2006.

There is only one sculpture in the Haliburton Sculpture Forest carved out of local granite. Granite from the Pre-Cambrian shield (actually called gneiss) is notoriously difficult to work with. It is hard on carving tools, and it has fault lines that might result in a fractured sculpture if not handled with care. A sculptor has to be patient, creative, careful, and experienced to work with it. The stone for “To Cut or Not to Cut” was blasted from the ground under where Todd’s Independent stands now on County Rd 21.

Some sculptors believe that forms and figures exist within the stone, and that it is their job to allow these shapes to appear. This concept can be seen in Beachli’s sculpture. The natural red colouration of some parts of the rock inspired the red flannel shirt of the lumberjack and the faces of the figures. If you walk around the sculpture, you can see sections that were left uncarved, almost as if the artist found the boy and his father within the stone.

Haliburton County has a long history of men working in the forest, whether in the logging industry or cutting trees to clear land for farming and fire wood. This sculpture details the scene of a father and son working together. “To Cut or Not to Cut” is about the conversations that take place between them as they work. It can also be interpreted as the push and pull relationship we have with the forest. We need timber for building and heat, but we also need to conserve the forest and our environment to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink. How do you know when to cut and when not to cut?

The Haliburton Sculpture Forest is located in Glebe Park on 297 College Drive. This unique collection of 36 sculptures by Canadian and international artists is open to the public, dawn to dusk, for your own discovery. Free guided tours occur on Tuesdays (10:00-11:30) and Wednesdays (12:10-12:50) in July and August. You can use the sculpture forest app (download PocketSights and search for Haliburton) or visit the website to learn more about the sculptures.

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