Eric Tardif, who hails from Gatineau in the Canadian province of Quebec, was at one time a naturalist in Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area preserve along the shores of the St. Lawrence River. The preserve was specifically created in 1978 to protect the habitats for migratory waterfowl, especially migratory snow geese. It continues to be world-renowned for exceptional marshes and plains that support more than 20 different duck and goose species.
The natural landscapes, heritage and bird life of Western Canada have been Tardif’s creative muse for over fifteen years – first inspiring him to pursue his art and still today, helping to shape his perspective. Early awards in JapanWild birds, in particular, with their natural elegance and graceful movements, continue to be the source for his inventive and unique brass, bronze, wood and stone sculptures.
Tardif does not sculpt in the traditional sense; he bends and shapes. While some of his work is in brass and bronze, his primary medium remains walnut, Canadian maple, ash, cherry and elm. “I have always been intrigued by the expressive possibilities of wood,” he explains. “I am constantly researching and refining my methods. Like birds, my work is in a state of perpetual artistic migration, from what I know toward even more expressive ways to form my vision.”
Using a process called ‘steam bending’ – in which strips of wood are steamed to a temperature of more than two hundred degrees (°F), making them pliable enough to bend into curving, intricate forms – Tardif creates abstract sculptures that capture the nuances and intimacies of our feathered friends as they fly, preen, hunt and interact with each other. He notes that even the choice of type of wood “adds touches that are sometimes voluptuous, sometimes solemn” to the feeling of a piece.
For the 2018 Festival, November 9-11, Tardif is creating a signature sculpture in bronze. He will only hint about the piece saying it comes from “a moment etched in my memory. It was not minutes, but hours being fascinated by two birds that were so engaged with each other that they were completely oblivious to my presence.”
In addition to many group exhibitions around the world and solo exhibitions in Canada and the U.S., Tardif has been highlighted in the annual “Birds in Art Exhibition” at Ohio’s prestigious Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. Early in his artistic career he won several awards in Japan and more recently has been a finalist for the NICHE Awards in Washington, D.C., an esteemed competition celebrating excellence and innovation in American and Canadian fine craft. Tardif exhibits at the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in Charleston, South Carolina and other wildlife art events across the U.S each year. He has also served on the Board of Directors for numerous culture, craft and art councils in his home country.