by Douglas Pugh
The RightEyedDeer Press
From the frail roots of being one of eight foster children over in British Columbia, Terry Adair has seen some startling times and developments since.
In 1944, late in the years of World War Two, the first startling event was a move to farm country in Ontario.
“Rural schools, “ Adair reminisces, “ they often have some of the best, toughest and finest sports teams. They often though lacked a little on the academic side compared to urban education.”
Some though are destined to be able to make that leap, and Adair was one of them. His High School years were blessed with a few teachers that admired his talents. One of these, Ethel Curry, was a supremely talented artist herself and now has left the legacy of galleries in the Haliburton Highlands, where she was raised.
It seems as if there was somewhat of a battle for Adair’s growing talents, principally fought over by the art fraternity and the architect/draftsman side. Adair eventually graduated as a draftsman and signed up with an architectural firm. The art did not get forgotten, it just wasn’t going to cover the bills that early in his career.
Keeping up his meteoric success story, Adair made partner in the firm in the short space of 4 years. He stayed with the company for another ten years before making the next great leap and setting up his own consultancy.
“I was often a sort of go-between, “ muses Adair, “ the link between the planning authorities and the construction side. I understood both aims, the rules, the practicalities, and helped them meet in the middle.”
Talented or not though, sometimes life can throw you a curve ball. In Adair’s case it was the property market – and the follow through to construction and architecture – bombing in 1990. This lead to Adair officially ‘retiring’ at the grand old age of 50. Not that somebody as multi-talented as Adair was going to take it easy.
Adair used his architectural knowledge, allied with a shrewd sense of financial practicality, and bought one property after the other. In each case he took somewhere with sound bones and good potential, using his vision and his craftsman’s skills to renovate and improve each one.
In the course of these renovations he not only became more skilled in woodwork and carpentry, often making his own furniture, but also found his passion for art rekindled.
“ People would look around the places while they were viewing, and then they would spot things here and there that were experiments in expression more than anything else.” Adair smiles as he continues, “ Then they would say things like ‘You could sell that, in a gallery or something’. And I suddenly thought why not?”
For fourteen years Terry had based himself in a property on Loon Lake, just outside Haliburton, but now with a focus towards getting a place with gallery potential, he moved himself to a property towards the outskirts of Haliburton itself.
“This is such a wonderful community, “ says Adair, “ the people they understand, they appreciate art. They inspire with their very acceptance. Plus there is the bonus of the hospitals here, “ Adair taps his chest, “ I have a metal valve in the heart, and the medical staff and facilities here are first rate.”
‘Here’ is Twisted Pine Studio. The former garage is now a superbly fitted woodworking room, filled with every carpentry tool imaginable. Adair has even added a sanding booth complete with full extraction facilities. There are shelves stacked with pieces of wood around the walls.
“Mostly offcuts and thrown away pieces from lumber yards and forests. Every piece I see something in it, potential.” Adair pauses for a moment. “ Then my wife makes me thin out some of that ‘potential’ every now and then otherwise I’d probably be overrun with it.”
The studio itself is spacious, filling itself with natural light through the large windows and overlooking the rolling yard as it dips towards Head Lake. The colour scheme – white walls, pine trimmings – is one that Adair has used in most of his renovations over the years.
The studio has a wide range of products, nearly all wood carvings, ranging from the relatively simple to the agonisingly complex. Does the artist himself have a favourite?
“I can honestly say that I am proud of all of my work.” Adair points up to a white clay bust on a high shelf. “ See that? That was made in an art class at High School with Ethel Curry. I’m as proud of that now as I was then.”
Adair is both self taught as well as having some training in many forms of art. He has been on courses, local and otherwise, and been through that trial and error that is a great learning tool for any artist.
“With wood, “ says Adair, it’s not only about having the vision of what is there, but the patience and delicate craft required to reveal it. Removal of excess, one tiny bit at a time – but also knowing when to stop.”
As an example check out ‘Snapper’, an Adair creation ; http://www.madeinhaliburton.ca/products/Snapper-%282004%252d366%29-by-Terry-Adair.html
Exposed from a tangled ‘gnarl’ of maple, the artist has lovingly etched and smoothed, adding details here and there. It leaves the viewer not only with an instant impression of the turtle, but combines textures, the rugged, the smooth. They invite being touched, being talked about. Adair knows how to draw something evocative for everyone.
Adair has had a successful Summer in 2012, the area has a couple of weekends of intense visiting and selling as droves (and sometimes coach loads) of visitors swarm around many of the local artisans and studios. The rest of the Summer ‘season’ is brisk too with many dwellers from the urban south renting or owning cottages in the stunning landscapes of lakes and forests. Some ‘stock’ items sold out, other more exclusive items too.
“You just never quite know what is going to catch the eye of the customer, so I try and cater for all. You wait until next year though …”
“ With the new equipment in the workshop I can scale things up a little. I’ve spent a lot of time with Charles O’Neil studying sculpture along with other courses in stone work. By next summers Tours, I hope to have filled that …” Adair sweeps his arm across the vista of that rolling yard “… I reckon they are going to need an hour visiting the whole studio.”
The studio name, Twisted Pine, is that because of a sculpture, or maybe even a particular type of wood that he enjoys working with?
Adair laughs. “ Not at all. It’s simply called Twisted Pine because of those very twisted and gnarly pines by the driveway. If there’s actually a type of wood that I prefer working with, it would be maple. Very, very hard stuff to work, but the grain, the structure, the feel of it … nothing to beat it.”
Now we have probably taken up a fair chunk of Terry Adair’s day, and he has work to do, even potential to shape as he builds towards next summers tourists, so why don’t you take a look at his web page at www.TwistedPineStudio.com or browse through his selection of online wares on that most excellent online art centre www.MadeInHaliburton.ca