Concrete Artist Rick Harmer Shows It’s In The Mix

Concrete Artist Rick Harmer Shows It’s In The Mix

Lightweight concrete bowl from "The Cracked Egg" series

Bluff Hollow…it all started with a dream. While searching for a new home with his wife Ann in the Garden Bay area of B.C. on the Sunshine Coast, concrete artist Rick Harmer saw the place they would call home before they even saw it. He dreamt the property would be surrounded on both sides by bluffs and that it would be appropriately dubbed Bluff Hollow. The next day his dream became a reality when their realtor showed them the property where they now reside. Rick notes that it is impossible not to feel creative in a setting such as this, and so they enjoy exploring and creating within the wonders of their forested surroundings.

Rick and one of his concrete creations

Rick and one of his concrete creations

It was thirteen years ago that Rick decided to leave his career as a mortgage broker and become, as he coins, a concretist. Since then he has been casting and pouring into molds various garden and interior art objects in a variety of colours and finishes. With such a heavy medium to work with he knew there would be limitations to what he could create depending on the application and where it would be displayed. Therefore he set out to find a new formulation that would be much lighter yet durable to withstand the elements that garden art is subjected to. After much research and experimentation he developed his own formula that gave him the attributes he desired. As a result, Rick’s creations will complement the outdoor environment whether throughout gardens, on a tree, or against a mossy background. His indoor pieces add a simple yet elegant touch, but Rick mentions that the finishes on these are not winter-worthy and are for indoor enjoyment.

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His work has also evolved to utilizing concrete wrapped around styrofoam in order to make larger concrete objects more manageable. One such denizen of Bluff Hollow is a twenty two foot long snake that greets visitors along the driveway. It is concrete wrapped around styrofoam and only weighs forty four pounds. This technique has greatly expanded the possibilities for concrete desired products. I still remember moving my sister’s large concrete garden statue which required three guys and a chiropractor afterwards! This versatile and back-friendly medium is also prompting Rick to start making outdoor benches and tabletops as well.

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When I asked Rick what his ultimate challenge for a concrete work of art would be he replied, “The largest mushrooms in B.C.” Tying in nicely with the ongoing activities of the local mushroom club, he imagines an installation of three concrete-wrapped styrofoam mushrooms, nine feet tall with benches underneath for people to enjoy the shade. He would encourage the participation of high school students which would instill pride and a sense of ownership through their efforts and in turn help to secure guardians for the prominent local attraction. Rick is an advocate for more public art, and feels that it is a great way to get people out of their homes and collaborating with one another to not only enrich the community experience but also to share their identity with those traveling through.

To take a look through Rick’s Bluff Hollow website: (click here)

Enjoy our interview with Rick and thanks for helping to share his work through comments, social media and email:

Meet Rabi’a – “Woman of Steel”

Meet Rabi’a – “Woman of Steel”

Rabi’a greeted us at her gate with a hello, a hug, and a request to help her flip over a twelve foot long sheet of ¼ inch steel cut into the shape of a woman. It was a glimpse at her next project; the woman of steel to be clad in colourful ceramic tiles. [See photo of “Dancing Myself” updated below and the sculpture on public display in Castlegar, B.C.] It was perhaps a fitting symbol of this “woman of steel,” as Rabi’a’s boundless energy was apparent while she toured us around her property. That energy has transformed what was once a bare lot on the Slocan River into a beautifully treed sanctuary and also home to her bed and breakfast, The Artful Lodger. You will find an experience of cozy strawbale cottages, a solar shower (trust me, it’s very hot!), organic gardens and orchard, a boardwalk to the Slocan River, and of course the eclectic one-of-a-kind garden art sculptures created by Rabi’a. As we walked around the property it was evident that her outdoor art sculptures were as much a part of the décor of her acreage as were the variety of abundant trees she planted, each piece lending its own personality to the surroundings.

From Rabi’a’s history of homesteading and permaculture she is clearly a do-it-yourself person. That trait has extended to not only building the boardwalk shown in the included photos, where she hauled in 120 used tires for the base of it, but also to learning how to weld. That skill, combined with her creativity led to the creation of “Huge and Foolish“, a piece shown in Castlegar’s Sculpture Walk 2011 and purchased by the Columbia Basin Trust which now has it on display in Castlegar, B.C. for everyone to enjoy.

The "Huge and Foolish" mold

"Huge and Foolish"

Our visit with Rabi’a concluded with a tour of her strawbale cottages and a nice cup of tea, scrumptious dried apples and intensely flavoured dried tomatoes in her welcoming home; these goodies post-harvest bounty from her garden and orchard. Thank you for your hospitality Rabi’a.

“Dancing Myself”

Please click here for a more extensive look at Rabi’a’s art and enjoy the last two photographs below of views from Rabi’a’s property. Please feel free to leave a comment in the “Leave a comment” section below.