Kevin Coates is a talented local artist who draws inspiration from traditional Newfoundland industries for the subject matter of his work. Coates, who is self-taught, picked up caricature carving about 15 years ago after reading about it in a magazine. He had been looking for a new hobby and this style of wood carving peaked his interest. Much like caricature drawings, these carvings exaggerate the peculiar features of a person or object. Coates, who grew up and still resides in Winterton, is inspired by the fishery and the majority of his carvings reflect this.
When you first see a Kevin Coates carving your eye is immediately drawn to the face, which he works on for about a third of the time it takes to complete the rest of the carving. When asked where he gets inspiration for the faces, Coates replied, “it’s something about someone I remember, especially from back when I was a kid. We spent a lot of time down by the wharf, at this and that, with the fishermen and the old fellows.”
Coates mostly uses pine or fir along with several different tools to carve his pieces. Interestingly though, Coates' favorite tool is a modified right-handed filleting knife, or splitting knife, that he cut down to about five or six inches. As Coates describes, "where I'm left-handed and it's a right-handed splitting knife the turn is perfect for me."
For more information on Kevin Coates and his carvings, check out the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Researched and written by: Nicole Penney
Works Cited:Penney, Nicole. Interview with Kevin Coates on the Subject of Wood Carving. Recorded April 26, 2013