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June 2004

Stone sculpting

By Garry Curry,
Co-Founder of SODA Studio with Alistair Green,
Society of Disabled Artists.

Alistair Green and myself, Garry Curry, are quadriplegic stone sculptors. Alistair has a C four incomplete injury and I am a C five complete 87%. We were injured in separate motor vehicle accidents in July 1991 both in our early 20s.

At the start we spent a year in rehab together learning how to cope with such a devastating injury. After a year in rehab at G. F. Strong Vancouver British Columbia we managed to be able to feed ourselves and brush our teeth. After rehab we both moved to Victoria on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada and have designed many devices to make life and art accessible.

We started sculpting together in 1995 at my apartment, beginning with small simple sculptures we designed as Christmas and birthday gifts. The response from family and friends gave us confidence and this grew with every sculpture we created. Our next goal was to find studio space so we could create an accessible workstation with a dust controlled environment.

Stone sculptures

Two sculptures, one of the torso and one abstract of spinal column   stone figures

My sister had a small space available which was converted into a studio and was used for two years. The studio allowed us to design larger sculptures and experiment with different tools, but the studio was hard to heat and would flood during wet weather. We needed a larger studio so Alistair's carport was converted into a studio with a large accessible workstation, where we have been working since 1997.

Together we have designed many different types of tools to allow us to created more complex sculptures. We have now outgrown this studio and have had to turn down large commissions that could have employed us for many years. The converted carport is just not large enough to create an assembly line and we are in need of warehouse space.

Adapted sculpting tools

Bench top with tools and splints.   Garry working on a large cement sculture commission.

Stone sculpting has helped us both by giving us a goal in life. After such a bad injury your body is in shock and one of the side effects can be depression. The feeling of pins and needles and burning sensation can drive you crazy. Sculpting is a good way to get your mind off the pain and you feel productive. Having something to show for your time spent in the wheelchair is priceless and with every sculpture completed the excitement for the next is overwhelming. Accomplishment creates courage to achieve more. Stone sculpting is also a great source of exercise, helping you to keep fit and active.

We are keen to teach stone sculpting to other people with a disabilities and to set up an accessible studio and tools for different types of art. A warehouse size art studio will allow for many workstations. The warehouse studio will have separate areas for different artists working in a variety of mediums, such as clay sculpture, casting and mold making, stone sculpture, metalwork, jewelry and and area for computer equipment.

Studio (before renovation)

Studio showing work station area.   Close up of sculting tool - click to expand image.

Tools need to be customized for each disabled artist, a metal work area is needed, splints are needed to hold the tools, casting and mold making is needed to form them. The size of the warehouse will determine the type of art that can be created and the amount of workstations.

The "Society of Disabled Artists" will focus on making art accessible by user-friendly workstations and customized tools. Once a person with a disability has their customized splint and tools made, a workstation will be adjusted to suit their needs. The learning process to use the tools will begin with small simple projects, moving on to larger and more difficult sculptures. The studio will customize power tools and design equipment to increase productivity.

Our goal for the Society of Disabled Artists (SODA) is to purchase at a few acres of land and build a large studio with many different workstations for all different kinds of art. We will also have a dozen accessible bungalows with the main kitchen and entertainment area connected to the studio. We think it would be great to have disabled people come from all over the world and stay at the studio and have tools designed and built for the kind of art they're interested in exploring. This process might take two to four months. The studio will supply home care an accessible bungalow and meals for the duration of the art therapy. The studio will design tools and an accessible workstation that is portable and can be taken home so the individual artists can have the chance to achieve financial independence. We estimate this cost will be US$10,000 per client. We are currently building a network of supporters and funding to make this possible. We are starting this society by creating artworks that will be auctioned off at various different charitable art auctions 50 percent of the proceeds will go to the Society of Disabled Artists the other 50 percent will go to the charity holding the auction. A lot of other societies spend time on promotion, example celebrity art auctions. We want to spend time in the studio and supply the society's with art to be auctioned.

For more information

To be involved as an artist or sponsor contact: Alistair Green and Garry Curry:

Alistair Green and Garry Curry

the office
Garry Curry: phone number 1-250-472-2917
1550 Church Ave
Unit 304
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
V8P 2H1

Donations of tools and equipment can be sent to the studio:

the studio
Alistair Green: phone number 1-250-721-1516
4114 Shelbourne
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
V8N 3E7

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