In late 2005, Michael Binkley secured a commission for a life-size standing female nude sculpture which he began work on in Italy in the spring of 2006 - marking one of his Italian Experiences. The patron was very excited that Binkley would be personally choosing the white marble block and that the genesis of the carving of the sculpture would occur in Italy.
There were several features the patron wanted included in the sculpture. The figure had to have passion, mysticism, innocence, sensuality, and femininity in her form. She was to have a less detailed face that was open to interpretation, be slim, athletic, flirting, enticing, strong, yet have an unobtainable air.
In Pietrasanta, Italy, Binkley rented workspace at the famous Studio SEM. He selected a beautiful and sound 2.5 ton block of Carrara Bianco marble from the quarries in the mountains above the famous town of Carrara. The block had a natural slanted break along one upper side. This followed the form of the figure’s tilted head and right arm which was to brush a lock of hair from her face. This told Binkley it was the perfect block of stone.
Binkley worked on the sculpture for a week, before putting it aside to work on three other commissions. It was an amazing time, working alongside the Studio’s artigiani under the warm Tuscan sun, in the shadow of the Appenine Mountains.
It came as a shock that these seasoned carvers did not know a technique Binkley uses for bulk stone removal. Binkley frets the marble with a cutting blade on an angle grinder and chips off the frets with a hammer and chisel. The snickers Binkley heard as he approached his block on the first morning with a small angle grinder were quelled by evening when he was standing ankle deep in marble chips.
"All you?" he was asked in broken English, as a local artigiani gestured towards the pile of stone chips. Unfortunately, water is not used in the carving process at Studio SEM, something Binkley does in Vancouver to keep the dust down and to ease the saw cuts. Binkley had to do all his cutting in front of a huge dust extractor.
Then came his Trow and Holden 1" pneumatic hammer, which is designed for granite and rips a chisel through marble. "May I try?" was a request from one artigiani.
Binkley wanted to keep a good portion of marble on the sculpture so there would be no danger of breakage during shipping back to Vancouver. He mapped out the figure’s head, spine, buttocks, right leg and arms before stopping.The container with the sculpture arrived in July of 2006, and he continued work in his North Vancouver studio and completed the sculpture in early 2007.
This project was a challenge, but Binkley had a wonderful time sculpting "Ansia"; from deciding on her pose, to traveling to Pietrasanta, Italy to selecting the marble, to beginning carving her there, to her completion at his studio in North Vancouver, culminating in her debut in early 2007 in his gallery.
Once finished, the patron christened her "Ansia." The Portuguese word means anxiety, and was significant to him. He is very pleased with the sculpture.