PHABRIK Magazine

Tea With Isla Burns

By Charmaine Lowe

March 2010

“She makes steel look light as a feather”, a student described, in reference to University of Alberta professor and internationally acclaimed steel sculptor, Isla Burns. And such a compliment is far from unwarranted when you take a look at Isla Burns’ work. Her finely crafted and painstakingly detailed steel creations look as though they are made from pottery or painted porcelain, rather than such an industrial material as steel. After seeing the wonders this woman can make with steel, it came as no shock to hear she’s had shows in such cities as New York and London, pieces commissioned by the city of Barcelona, Spain, and can call famed New York art critic Clement Greenberg her pen pal. On a wintery Thursday afternoon, I had the privilege to sit down with for tea at a local Japanese restaurant with Isla Burns, and Western Canada fashion week creator, Sandra Sing Fernandes. Over a steamy cup of green tea, a surprisingly shy and unpretentious Isla Burns shared with us the evolution of her craft, her experiences in life and in the art world, and provided some inspiring words for aspiring young artists.


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