‘Riki’ Ulrike Weiland

Sculptor, Painter


hen I paint I can experience only one dimension…don’t get me wrong, I love the language of colour and the energy of composition, but there is nothing like being able to express movement and emotion in three dimensions. The play of light on the surfaces as one moves around a piece. That is what I love about sculpting.”

As a student Riki concentrated on Painting and Graphic and Structural Design. She obtained her degree from the Ontario College of Art. One of her instructors encouraged her to continue her formal studies. Riki applied to the prestigious Cooper Union in New York City, winning a scholarship to study painting. She graduated in 1963.

Despite the fact that her father was a sculptor, she did not come to sculpting until she moved to Fergus in 1998. She met Jo-Anne Harder and jumped in to help with the first EAC Sculpture Show, held in parks in central Elora. This inspired her to start working with clay under the mentorship of Beverley Cairns at the Gage Sculpture Group (a studio with model, started by the renowned Frances Gage). Later she furthered her studies with Geoffrey Stevens in an advanced sculpture group meeting at the Elora Pottery. Riki was urged to enter a few pieces in the Sculpture Show, and she received such a positive response that she was encouraged to continue her explorations.

Why does she work in clay, rather than another, more traditional medium for sculpting? “I like the feeling of the clay as I manipulate it… I love the warm textures of the finished piece…it is a gentle process as opposed to welding or carving… perhaps I love it because I was not allowed to play with mud as a child.”

Not only does Riki create arresting figurative sculptures, she enjoys experimenting with textures and finishes in her sculptural pottery. Riki is fascinated with the unpredictable and magic results of various raku glazes. She is anxious to include found objects in her yet-to-be formed creations.

Riki has shown her work extensively. Her expressive and fluid figures in clay have been accepted at the INSIGHTS show, and she is currently exhibiting at Davis Canadian Fine Art in Stratford. Her work can be found in a number of private collections.

In 2003, Riki moved to Elora, and in partnership with Pauline Groves and Shirley Al, she opened a Studio/Gallery called “Gallery 79” where she creates, fires and exhibits her work. She is also creating a series of large canvases, which she hopes to exhibit in the year 2006.

 … there is nothing like being able to express movement and emotion in three dimensions… the play of light on the surfaces as one moves around a piece… that is what I love about sculpting.

Riki is a highly organized individual which allows her to juggle her artistic career with her many volunteer activities. She believes it is essential, when living in a community that has as much to offer as ours, to make a contribution… that it behoves one to give back to the community. Indeed, Riki is a tire-less community worker, volunteering as chair of the Elora Arts Council (two terms), Chair of the Insights Committee and Vice Chair of the Studio Tour Committee.

Does Riki call herself an artist? “I create art because I have to…it is what I do…it is who I am”

Riki is greatly; appreciated as a teacher of clay sculpture at the Elora Centre for the Arts. In 2005 she moved to a small but fascinating studio just off Mill Street east, called “Studio Elora”, shared with clay artists Shirley Al and Jo Lomas.

by Patricia Reimer, Summer 2000
Updated by Riki Weiland