Martha Sturdy was born in 1942 in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she has spent the extent of her life. This connection with the Pacific Northwest fostered the fundamental sensitivity towards the natural world, raw material explorations and formal expansiveness evident in her work.
She received her BFA at the Emily Carr University, where she was later granted an Honorary Doctor of Letters in 2006. Since her emergence in the 1980s Martha has blended the concerns and methods of Conceptual sculpture with those of Suprematism to create her own unique iconography and often interstitial art + design practice. Her work explores contemporary interest in pure environments, by implying natural scale and economy to replicate the spatial experience of the untouched outdoors. Martha started STURDY in 1978, hiring artisans and technicians to allow her latitude. For her, the hand of the artist needs not to be seen, only their decisions, flaws experienced. By continuously stripping down forms and maintaining a dominant scale, her work approaches physical communication rather than a pedantic or rational communication. “My work is not for thinking about a specific environment, it’s about being witness to the emotive impact of nature’s balanced composition”.
Martha’s work rarely inspires moderate response, and this is one signal to the importance of her achievement. Her work re-evaluates the oldest subject in art – landscape; specifically nature’s ability to lure emotion and arts attempt to witness it. “By paring down to the most animal of basic shapes I ask if we can truly intellectualize the profound simplicity of our natural environment.”
Martha’s work spans wall, standing steel, salvaged wood and wearable sculpture featured in American, Italian and French Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Espana and Architectural Digest. Through the span of her career as a sculptor her work has remained focussed on natural monumentality and resolved, balanced composition to the intent of reflecting anew the proportions of our environment. Martha’s artwork has caught the appreciation of collectors, artists and designers internationally. In 2002 she was presented with a Golden Jubilee Award by the Governor General for her achievements internationally as a Canadian artist and in 2005 she was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA). In 2010 Martha was commissioned for a permanent installation in the Vancouver Olympic Village; followed in 2012 by a permanent installation in the heart of downtown Tokyo, Japan. Martha is currently represented by Orie Gallery in Tokyo.