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Sketch, Ralph.

Toronto, NC Press, c1986. 64pp, cloth, $12.95, ISBN 0-920053-73-4. CIP

Grades 4 and up
Reviewed by Gary Robertson

Volume 14 Number 6
1986 November

This small book introduces a successful, but quite unknown artist-sculptor to Canadians. Ralph Sketch has been doing mantelpiece bronzes and equestrian sculptures for many years, but we have not come to know him due to a lack of any major art gallery exhibitions or magazine articles dealing with his work. This book will help to rectify that.

The three major sections of this book include: a complete biography of Sketch's formative years, work experience, and his personal struggle to become an artist; a good chapter on sculpting and the bronze-casting process; and a record of the artist's major works, most of which are small equestrian and historical figures.

The sculpture of Ralph Sketch lacks the dynamic force of a Rodin, or the emotional power of a Michelangelo, but his work is sensitive and filled with inner peace and spirituality. His works follow the traditional concept of sculpture, that being the patriotic, the allegorical, or the lyrical. These qualities are reflected in "Montcalm at the St. Louis Gate," "Laura Secord," "Alexander MacKenzie at the Pacific," "Useful Toil," "Canadian Pioneer," and other works.

Most of the sculptures mentioned in the book have an accompanying black-and-white photograph, but these are not of good quality, having been taken in a variety of inside and outside settings. It is also unfortunate that the only colour photograph is on the slip-cover. The rich reflective patina of bronze sculpture is lost in black-and-white photography. The book itself is well-written and organized, with good binding that opens out flat for good viewing of text and illustrations. The text conveys an enjoyable statement of struggle and success in Sketch's artistic life. Because there are few traditional sculptors in Canada working in bronze, this book helps to introduce us to the process and one man's work in this field.

Gary Robertson, Thom C.I., Regina, Sask.
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