Dennis Cound has been creating art all his life.
Over the years, the Nakusp-raised man worked in watercolour, pen and ink, and charcoal, but in 2000, he gravitated toward three dimensional pieces and took up sculpting. He works with a variety of media, including soap stone, deer and moose antlers, even bear skulls.
“When I lived in Revelstoke, I had a lot of hunter friends who gave me some [antler sheddings], so I just decided to work with it with a rotary tool,” he said. “I found it really quick, as compared to working with stone, where it’s a long process.”
Another reason he got into working with antlers is because they’re more resilient than stone, and hold detail very well. He recalled moments where he worked with stone, and a project was nearly completed, but because of a hidden flaw in the stone the piece would fracture and parts would fall off.
Recently, Cound was recognized for his work as one of 15 people to win a title at the Art Tour International in Montagnac, France. Over 1,200 people vied for the opportunity to take part in the exhibit. Of that number, 60 were chosen.
“I was contacted by them directly, saying they were very impressed with my website,” Cound said. “They invited me to attend the exhibition in the south of France.”
Cound was one of three sculptors to take part in the exhibition, while the rest were painters.
He was humbled by the experience. “When I look at the magazine now, it’s pretty hard to believe that they saw something in my art to give me those accolades. I’m very honoured.”
When he’s not sculpting, Cound works in Kamloops as a locomotive engineer for for CP Rail.
It was actually though CP Rail that he got into working with animal skulls.
One day, while driving his train through the Fraser Canyon, he spotted the body of a black bear that had been struck and killed. Over time, Cound continued to see the body as he drove through the canyon, and thought it would be an interesting medium to work with.
“I believed the bone would be the same texture and hardness as antlers, so I managed to acquire the skull of this big black bear,” he said. He carved 10 to 15 Celtic style bears within the skull, and aged it to give it a prehistoric look.
“I thought it would be pretty exciting to have the bear kind of live on through art. It wouldn’t just dissipate and get lost in the earth, it would be able to live forever.”
Throughout this experience, Cound said the exposure he has received has been humbling.
“It’s difficult, because I’m kind of a quiet guy,” he said. “I just like to do my thing, get lost in my shop and create. This exposure has been unbelievable, and it’s a challenge for me to kind of accept that. I know it’s important for my art to grow, and it’s important to me that my art evokes emotion in people who see my work and purchase it.”