Nancy Street

From the time I was ten years old, I knew I could carve.

Nancy Street has lived a varied and very enjoyable life. After high school she headed to university to become a Physical Education teacher but when she realized she was the only girl that liked to do that, she changed direction and started at Nursing School.

I’ve lived in many places … from Southern Ontario (Sarnia, Toronto), travelled in Europe for a year, moved to Vancouver when one could easily cycle down Broadway with NO cars around … oh yes, those were the days. Moved to 100 Mile House and lived communally. Learned all kinds of things in the interior, from working at a newspaper, to cooking meals for over 100 people, baking huge quantities of bread, and cross country skiing.

Then Nancy moved to Vancouver Island to reunite with a friend she used to know, love and respect, twenty years prior: Brian, (it’s a great love story) ... and they got married.

At ten years old, Nancy received a carved bear as a gift from her brother, her response was: Thanks Jimmy, but why would you buy something like this, I could make it!. Her Dad heard this and gave her a piece of wood and an exacto knife, she carved her first bird – which she still has.  

In high school, she didn’t really enjoy english … but did get very high marks once when students were asked to write about “what do you want to be when you grow up?” A wood carver! Got an “A”. Because that was my dream.

1972 was the year Nancy’s dream was to come true. She moved to Vancouver and got a job at St. Paul’s Hospital to train for the open heart surgery floor. The day before she was to start the course, she met the Jade Carvers. They invited Nancy to join them and learn the trade. I went to the head nurse and asked what should I do? Nancy, she said, Go learn how to carve jade … you can be a nurse any day.  And so she did and never looked back.

Nancy worked at New World Jade for many years and in 1984 someone gave her a piece of soapstone … she fell in love. Soapstone was her true medium and she’s been carving ever since.

My creations are stylized. They take an element of reality and move with it.  By letting the flow of the wings or the curl of the wave draw the individual into the piece, thus looking at the piece and using their imagination…to fill the piece. Thus the creation is constantly changing and always interesting and very individual. I find if a piece is too detailed, it does not allow the viewer to join in the creation. (That is a bit airy…but I think it describes my pieces…they are very recognizable by their flow and people always long to touch the soft lines).

What are her biggest influences? A vivid imagination and (bless my mother) a very keen sense of observation.
Nancy knows that each new rock is a challenge. No rock is perfect, without fracture or flaws, so how one creates around that is always surprising.  By welcoming people to play a part of the creative vision … what they see is always a surprise. Everyone is different and has their unique way of seeing the world.

I will probably carve until I am very, very old.