Canadian artist Charles O’Neil began his artistic career as an award-winning painter, but soon yearned to bring three-dimensional form to his artistic achievements. He enrolled in the Haliburton School of the Arts where he learned the skills of blacksmithing and wire sculpting.
His passion for wire sculpting led to international recognition for his talents. As a result of this rising recognition he was commissioned to create a screen alongside a stairwell that ran from the basement to the roof of a home. This was subsequently featured in the Canadian National Press, Home Improvement magazines and a television broadcast. As a result of rising recognition he was asked to create a line of dazzling, beaded, wire sculpture shoes for an elite American shoe firm as display items. His name has become such a “household” name when it comes to wire sculpture that people walk by booths in cities far from his home that are displaying his creations and immediately recognize the work as that of Charles O’Neil.
Charles O’Neil moved to the Haliburton Highlands when he was 15 years old. This small, rural community of only 15,000 people has the highest number of artists and artisans per capita of any county in Ontario, Canada. When asked what keeps him in this community when he could produce his art anywhere in the world O’Neil states “It’s the balance of nature and people. If you need time out, to think, to get inspiration… it’s just a short walk away. The lakes and trees, the birds, the animals. It’s a community and a place like no other.”
The Haliburton Highlands, Ontario, Canada prides itself in its production of artists. Here you can find a broad array of artists, poets, potters, dancers, musicians and sculptors. The artist have organized themselves into a number of studio tours that bring recognition to the area and themselves and there are several galleries within which to display their work.
O’Neil’s work also adorns one of the treasures of the Haliburton Highlands: the Sculpture Forest. He was commissioned to produce a wire sculpture titled embracing Eos. As you wander through this heavily forested path that surrounds the Haliburton Campus of Fleming College you are startled and delighted to discover this and many other such sculptures precisely placed for your enjoyment amongst the trees, rocks and lakes.
The presence of the Haliburton School of the Arts at this campus enables O’Neil to also teach his fine craft skills to another generation of emerging artists and hobbyists.