Peregrine O’Gormley (b. 1977) makes one-of-a-kind wooden sculptures — full of whimsy, satire, and deep sentiment — that are welcome additions to any collection focused on artisanal process and time-intensive craftsmanship. Each sculpture is hand-carved from one of a variety of species, including juniper, maple, yew, black walnut, red cedar, and Alaskan yellow cedar, using knives and gouges. Molds are then made from the wood originals for limited bronze editions.
The artist, who was named after the peregrine falcon, credits his reverence for nature and love of natural materials — as well as his ability to observe his surroundings with sensitivity — to his father, who taught him at a young age to look at life with awe and wonder.
“While walking through the woods near our house, my father would point out species of plants, animals, moss, fossils, and insects,” O’Gormley recalls. “The depth and range of his knowledge was astonishing. Most compelling, however, was his enthusiasm, love, and appreciation for all things living.”
With subjects such as owls, herons, ravens, rabbits, and snakes making regular appearances in O’Gormley’s work, it’s clear that he has continued to develop that connection to the great outdoors. A recent work titled “Angelorum” not only is a testament to this lifelong pursuit but also serves as a type of memento mori, reminding us of the swift passing of time and fragility of life. “The inspiration for ‘Angelorum’ is quite personal,” the artist shares. “The work is capturing that desire to have our loved ones caught as they fall — an angel’s ﬂight, faster than falling, faster than terminal velocity: 200 miles per hour. (Peregrine falcons in full stoop can reach speeds of up to 242 miles per hour.) I hesitate to use the term ‘angel,’ as I subscribe to no doctrine; however, the spirituality surrounding death has become visceral to me in the wake of my father’s passing.”
O’Gormley also carries on his father’s deep concern for the well-being of nature and collects all his materials directly from around his home in La Conner, Washington, overlooking Puget Sound. “It is important to me that I avoid using living trees for my work,” he says. “I use wood from wind-falls, beach combing, gifts from old collections, etc. As a species, we are at a critical moment in history as we watch and inﬂuence profound changes to our global ecology. The natural world informs everything that I create, and I feel that communicating ideas through sculpting its character is my way of honoring and respecting it.”
Learn more about the contemporary sculptures of Peregrine O’Gormley at www.peregrineogormley.com.