Shawnigan Lake School Sculpture Unveiling, B.C. Canada

On October 26th, 2013, the larger-than-life bronze sculpture of C.W. Lonsdale was unveiled on the beautiful Shawnigan Lake School campus in B.C., Canada. To experience the days’ events, please view BELOW the photo slideshow or enjoy the video. 

On the day of the sculpture installation the sun shone brightly, making it a perfect day for the arrival of the first headmaster in bronze. The installation was done by a crane and went smoothly, considering the three granite slabs and bronze statue totaled 15,000 lbs! Many curious students, faculty, and administrators came by to witness the placement of the sculpture, and once it was finally assembled everybody agreed that the design, size, and location couldn't be more fitting. 

There is something different and special now as one passes through the wrought iron gates to Shawnigan. The once empty grove of old cedar trees, visible at about a hundred yards, holds the hint of someone new as you approach the main campus building. There stands C.W. Lonsdale and his beloved dog, appropriately just outside the Headmaster's office and adjacent to the Alumni Garden.

Founder's Day began with a service at the Shawnigan chapel. After the service, hundreds of students, alumni, and faculty gathered around the veiled sculpture for the unveiling ceremony. The keynote speaker was Mr. Dick Lonsdale, who spoke of his great uncle C.W.’s journey from London to the western coast of Canada, and his ultimate founding of the new school in 1916. Many more of Lonsdale's extended family were in attendance to witness the unveiling. It was a beautiful and very special day for all who attended. 

My heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the three gentlemen (and Shawnigan alumni) whose vision is now realized, and who have earned my respect, and my lifelong friendship: Stuart Milbrad, John Burr, and Francois Elmaleh.


Photos by Stephen Lane, Margot Allen and Paul Tedrick

To watch a video of the event click HERE

To read more about the event you can visit the Shawnigan Lake School website  

Artist Mardie Rees Set to Unveil Latest Commissioned Sculpture

The larger-than-life sculpture of a beloved teacher and his dog will be installed in British Columbia, Canada

GIG HARBOR, Wash., Oct. 23, 2013 – Internationally acclaimed figurative sculptor Mardie Rees, will be unveiling her 1,000-pound, 8-foot tall, bronze sculpture of C.W. Lonsdale, founder of the elite Shawnigan Lake School in British Columbia.

The sculpture, comprised of Mr. Lonsdale and his German shepherd, will be unveiled on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 at 11:30 a.m. at the main entrance of Shawnigan Lake School in British Columbia, Canada. For more information, visit

Crafting the sculpture has been a 4-year undertaking with Rees using live male models with Lonsdale’s physique, photographs of Lonsdale, a suit from the 1930’s, and a German shepherd with period-specific anatomy. Documentation of the entire process can be found on Rees’ blog.

“Mardie really immersed herself in Lonsdale’s spirit. She spent time on the campus and interviewed myself and other former students,” said Stuart Milbrad, a Shawnigan Lake alumnus. “Her work is amazing and I admire her methodical approach to learning about Lonsdale--a giant of a man.” Milbrad notes the incredible likeness of the sculpture to his late mentor, teacher, and friend.

Rees is leading a revival of the intensely personal medium of figurative sculpting using wooden tools and raw earth in her hands. “I like working big,” says Rees, and explains “My work is about connecting stories, characters, and emotion to create art that people can relate to and with which they can identify.”

The 300-acre lakeside campus and Tudor style architecture will provide a spectacular backdrop for the large-scale bronze sculpture. Founded by Lonsdale in 1916, Shawnigan Lake School is a co-ed boarding school that believes in cultivating a student’s character and unique talents through instructional excellence. 

About Mardie Rees

Mardie Rees is an internationally recognized figurative sculptor based in Gig Harbor, Wash. Her work brings the classical figure into today’s context with an emphasis on emotional dialogue. The relationships between her subjects and their circumstances bring a life to her work that is tangible to its viewers. 

Mardie Rees is currently developing a WWII U.S. Marine Raider Memorial sculpture commissioned by the U.S. Marine Raiders Foundation. She is resident artist at Real Carriage Door Company. For more information on her work, visit


Postlude: Sculpture Unveiling

The unveiling of sculpture, C.W. Lonsdale, at the Real Carriage Door wood shop

Gallery photos from the party on January 17th & 19th, 2013

Thank you to all who came! It seemed everyone had a wonderful time at the Real Carriage Door wood shop which was transformed into a sparkling winter party. Beer was served by local 7 Seas Brewing; jazz music was played by Zizzy Zi Zixxy, with the unveiling of the sculpture as the focus of the evening. Locals browsed the gallery of sculptures by Mardie Rees, while drinking beer and chatting with friends. Children joined the fun by dancing to the jazz music in front of the band. Many doors were displayed for enjoyment to add to the creative mood. At 6 pm, Beth Rees introduced a new video about Real Carriage Door Company (viewable on a large screen held aloft by a forklift). Thursday night, the current Headmaster from Shawnigan Lake School, David Robertson, shared some background about the school and expressed their excitement in receiving the sculpture of their founder and headmaster, C.W. Lonsdale, and his faithful German Shepherd. Sculptor Mardie Rees was later introduced, and she elaborated on the process of creating the monumental sculpture over the last three years. After much anticipation, Mardie spoke the key words, "Let's take a look," and upon the count of three, the canvas was dropped to a round of applause.

The sculpture will be at the foundry (Two Raven Studio in Tacoma) through the end of the summer, and the official unveiling of the sculpture cast in bronze to be scheduled for October 2013.

Finishing Dog Feet

I'm finishing up the details on all 4 feet of my sculpture of a German shepherd dog (representing the many dogs C.W. Lonsdale had as Headmaster). My model for the body and feet is a white German Shepherd named, Finn. He is the sweetest and most well behaved dog I have ever had modeling for me. Julie (Finn's owner) does a good job keeping him still. Usually he models for me a couple hours at a time. 

Home Stretch

The Fall brought beautiful weather with sun and warm temperatures. The last three months has been the homestretch for a project I have been working on since the beginning of 2012. Because we had an indian summer, I was able to work with the large roll up door open and the sun streaming in my studio (at Real Carriage, Gig Harbor - WA). My German Shepherd Dogs (I have two of them) spent many hours in my studio modeling as I worked out the kinks and sculpted the portrait. It was a lot of fun working with a live dog in my studio! 

Then as life would have it - the rains came in late October (just as I begin to return to the portrait) and it got cold, so I had to figure out how to once again work with artificial lighting. 


My dog after many adjustments

In late September my husband, Jeremy, help me install the platform under their feet. 

foil on the feet to protect finished shoes from getting damaged from dropped tools and clay when I'm working up high. 

Getting the lighting right so I could properly work on the portrait has been a challenge. Tools, scaffolding, lighting, and over tiredness are all things that you have to work to overcome so that the Work doesn't suffer.

C.W. Lonsdale & Dog - heads to Canada!

On April 12th, I joined Stuart (Shawnigan Lake Alum 1948) & Mary Milbrad, along with their daughter Sharon (Strathcona Alum) for a trip to Seattle. We took the newly completed maquette (size 21.75 x 13.25 x 12.75”) of C.W. Lonsdale & Dog to a meeting for alumni and guests put on by Shawnigan Lake School. I had a moment to share about the process of creating the work and a little background about Christopher Windley Lonsdale. The sculpture is now in Canada on view in the office of Shawnigan Lake School. It also is taken to various fundraising events and meetings that discuss the upcoming centennial celebration!!!

Stay tuned as we approach the making of the larger than life size sculpture! Shawnigan Lake School and alumni are in the process of raising funds to complete the piece, a tribute to their founder which will sit in a prominent location on campus!

Front view

rear view

Founder's Day

We arrived at Shawnigan Lake School to present the maquette (1/3 life size scale model) on October 23rd. It was the schools Founder's Day & Alumni Reunion. There were Alum there who had graduated as recently as 2000 all the way back to the 1940s.

Mardie Rees with sculpture!

C.W. Lonsdale & Dog - was presented to the Gold Club (Alum for 50 years or more). The class of 1960 had an induction ceremony and all members listened to my presentation on the sculpture.

The maquette was presented on a base to better depict how it will be installed in bronze.

SUSA Fund (Shawnigan USA) members and also Gold Club Members. From Left: Sharon Elmaleh,  Stuart Milbrad, Francois Elmaleh, Mardie Rees (sculptor), Katharine Burr, John Burr. Missing: Mary Milbrad and my husband, Jeremy Broderick

Many alum had a good look at the sculpture at the Alumni Banquet on Saturday night!

Banquet and Reunion drawing to an end Saturday night in Marion Hall

The maquette was crated back up for the return trip home by ferry from Vancouver Island, Canada. It survived the trip there and back without any large cracks!

Count Down

We are getting prepared to present the sculpture at Shawnigan Lake School this weekend for Founder's Day (Oct 23rd).

I've got 3 more days to finish last minute details.

Here is my husband, Jeremy, making some measurements. Because of the height limitations the maquette and gray base he built will have to be assembled on site.

Portrait still has a lot of work...but look at the dog! = )

After a little more work on the portrait.

Recent developments of the Dog

The armature has been fixed a few too many times! (maybe 4 or 5 times?)

He is finally coming into focus! It has been challenging sculpting a German Shepherd from the 1930s with a squared off back but with the common German Shepherd head as we know it.  Breeding has made the look of the dogs seen in the picture below nonexistent.

My inspiration! I am sculpting Pete who was Lonsdale's male dog in the 1930s

The Suit

The maquette (model) of Lonsdale and his dog stand about 22 inches (1/3 life size).  The final sculpture will be larger than life size (size yet to be determined and it will really depend on the location of the sculpture on campus).

Lonsdale has come a long way with his suit and all - now it is time to catch the dog up!


I've been busy in the studio the past couple weeks! Lonsdale went from having one arm unfinished to starting to wear a jacket! (just in time for the winter! - kidding)

I finally placed his right hand after I finally knew the height of the pocket. Thanks to some alterations made to his pants my model now has a jacket, vest, and pants that fit and are true to the 1930s era!

The toothpicks are like little measurement 'notes' so I don't get lost. As things go from fussy to more refined I pull them out.

Can you tell I'm having fun sculpting the pants?

Trust the Process

What is so interesting about the creative process is you may think you know where you are going to end up when you start, but what you learn along the way (over and over again) is that you need to "Trust the Process," and walk the road and see where it takes you. Let me explain:

After returning from a two week break from a family wedding and Grandparents visiting, I get back into my studio to explore the answer to an email that simply read: "What about a standing dog?" So I thought...I procrastinated...had a few too many cups of coffee and THEN I finally came up with this sketch (see below).

After that I knew where I wanted to go so I moved to 3-d since I work so much better in dimension.

I cut out the sitting dog and put in a standing dog. He later got his legs lopped off since he was too tall (my actual dog is too large so he is going to be scaled back by about 10% so he fits the part - Lonsdale's dogs were smaller). As I spun the quick study around I suddenly really liked the idea of a standing dog because the piece as a whole is more dynamic from all angles. A sculpture is most interesting when there isn't a so called "Front" to the piece. After USA Shawnigan Foundation paid a visit to my studio (Stuart Milbrad along with Francois & Sharon Elmaleh) it was settled, so back to the armature I went.

Standing dog armature seen on right.

Above : This is what I worked on today. I'm really trying to get his weight balanced and his feet in the right place. The 1930s shoes fit my model (yeah!) so now I know what the proper height is as he is now wearing wing-tipped shoes with heels. I will start adding his coat, etc... soon after I know I have all his anatomy in the right place.

1930s Era Attire

I've been busy finding 1930s era attire. So far I have found a jacket and now I am just looking for some shoes. The vest is going to have to be made since I can't find any vests that start so high up on the chest.

It has been an interesting experience going back in time - back in time looking at Men's Fashion!!

Details of Lonsdale's Shoes

Armature to Man & Dog

Here are a few pictures showing the progress I've made in the last few days.I've gone from measuring my models to building an armature (5/16 scale) and adding clay. I'm just at the very beginning stages of things taking shape.

The armature of the dog after a few changes. I started putting clay on and found out my armature had to be modified to take the weight of the clay.... so the clay you see piled on the right was pulled off his back so I could make those changes. It is NEVER to late to hack at it and get down to the armature and fix things since you will only be paying for it later!

(I did a little neck adjustment last night - armature was too close to the surface so that is why his head looks funny. It certainly never hurts to have something to do first thing the next day)

Just some quick pictures of where I am at in the sculpting process this beautiful Friday morning. It is about time we started out with a sunny morning! The hasn't been the best of summers here in the Northwest this year so I am soaking it up. I have all my doors open and it is beautiful!

Meet Odin!

Odin is the model for the C.W. Lonsdale Commission. Odin represents many of the German Shepherds Lonsdale had over the years and has a beautiful head! Lonsdale typically had two dogs (male & a  female) through out his life time. The dogs sat with him in his office as headmaster or followed behind him as he oversaw the comings and goings of Shawnigan Lake School. The reason I chose to do just one dog instead of two is I feel that by adding another dog, it would over power the sculpture (as seen in photo below). The focus needs to remain on Lonsdale, the founder, who managed to start a boarding school in 1916 in a remote area of B.C. Canada (Vancouver Island) and now it is a thriving school of 400 students! What an amazing accomplishment!

SLS Archives

Two of Lonsdale's Dogs - Taken Circa 1948 - SLS Archives

Odin is well trained and did a fabulous job sitting for 'cheese'! I managed to measure his ears, paws, snout, etc...

He will be a great model for the sculpture!