De-Ann Holmes – Focus on Local Artists – Issue #127

January 2023

De-Ann Holmes

For this month, Winnipeg River Arts Council features De-Ann Holmes, a carver who works with both wood and ice. She grew up in Winnipeg’s inner city, but now lives at Seddons Corner and has been a resident of the area for twenty-six years. Although she spends a lot of time on her carving, she has a full-time day job at Beausejour Dental Centre and previously served as a councillor in the Rural Municipality of Reynolds.

In the past, Holmes used to create small hand carvings and duck decoys. She was even good enough at small scale wood carving that she won prizes at Prairie Canada competitions. But, at 50 years of age, she picked up a chainsaw and found a new way to express her artistry, and quickly made an impression as a fearless and seriously talented artist.

Her carving styles range from traditional to contemporary and her pieces reflect Canada’s wilderness, in both nature and history. Also, as one of the few female carvers in Canada, she really stands out. A proud Metis, forager, mother, and grandmother to four grandchildren, Holmes has lived in unison with the land for many years. When asked what inspires her passion for chainsaw carving, she said, “Life!”

Walter Keller, a well-known builder and carver from Elma, taught Holmes the art and basics of chainsaw carving, and Cheryl Laschuk and Ron Jackson taught her how to work on the finer details. At present, she’s an established member of the Manitoba chainsaw carving community and her work in this medium is admired across the province and beyond. She said, “I’m blessed to be a part of this crazy carving family.”

Holmes has demonstrated her chainsaw skills at Festival du Voyager, 4-P Festival, Ducks Unlimited, and many other events. She said, “I have lots of commissions and requests for my work. I’m busy with grandkids and visits to my mother in Dominion City, but I have more time for carving now, after I decided not to run again as a councillor.”

One of her favourite events is Arbour Day, located in city parks such as Kildonan, St.Vital, Assiniboine, and The Forks. She said, “I love this event. Each year, it’s held on a Saturday in a different park, and kids show up with their parents. They love watching the arbourists and their machines, and they get to plant trees and participate in all kinds of activities related to trees. Then we do a small chainsaw carving to demonstrate how it’s done.”

In the upcoming months, she will be featured at a Winnipeg dinner and show sponsored by Fish Futures in May, will be exhibiting her work at Beausejour’s Breezy Oaks Carving Bash on Canada Day, and will hang out with world class carvers in Saskatchewan at Manitou Beach’s Maple Madness in August. Pictures of her work can be viewed on Pinterest, under “De-Ann Holmes – Carving.”

Her motto: “Attempt the absurd; achieve the impossible!”

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