Sidney Michael Dickens was born in 1963 in Prince Rupert, a small rural fishing town on the rugged West Coast of British Columbia. Until the age of 28 he worked as a commercial fisherman; off-season, he served burgers on the ferries and dedicated his spare time to drawing and painting.
In 1983, Dickens was accepted to the prestigious Emily Carr College of Art and Design in Vancouver. Almost immediately, Dickens found he needed a place to put his ideas into practice. In less than a year, he had opened his first studio and began to develop the processes and practices which would eventually culminate in the unique style of his work we see today.
In 1987, after an inspirational trip to Europe that Dickens regards as pivotal to his artistic development, he relocated his Vancouver studio to a waterfront location on the Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii) at the topmost corner of Northern Canada. The elemental beauty of this secluded, mythic wilderness enlarged Dickens's vision and he began what would be an important process in his artistic development. Unable to afford traditional art supplies, he began to experiment with a multitude of mediums including metal, wire, mud, leaves and whale bones salvaged from the beaches. He taught himself to weld using scraps of copper he salvaged from the island's logging industry, a development that led to a line of body sculpture featured in numerous fashion publications.
In 1988, one of his assemblages, created entirely of organic materials, was chosen for the poster of a retrospective of young Canadian artists held at the Museum of Natural Sciences in Ottawa, Ontario. It was during this trip that Dickens became aware of the "business of art", a realization that would prove invaluable to him in his future. Combining the elements of both a fine artist and a mad alchemist, Dickens continued to develop a personal vision, a synthesis of nature and time, and the elements that link our past to our future.
In 1989, Dickens attended the Instituto De Allende in the internationally renowned artists' colony of San Miguel de Allende in the north central mountains of Mexico. For two years he studied sculpture and bronze casting, and began a spiritual journey that would later take him to such places as Egypt and Peru where the influences of these cultures are evident in his work.
During his travels, Dickens spends considerable time conducting research. It is through this distillation process that Dickens has honed his ability to interpret ancient art for modern day sensibilities. Finding artistic beauty in the relics and cast-offs of our historical past is just one of his trademarks. "The images of time are virtually endless," says Dickens, "It's just a matter of reinterpretation, a slight adjustment, a modern perspective, if you will."
In 1991, Dickens returned to Vancouver and established a new studio in the historical heart of Vancouver. It was here that he found his preferred medium of plaster and created the first prototypes for his series of 6 by 8-inch decorative wall plaques, naming them "Memory Blocks".
Today, his Memory Blocks are internationally acclaimed. They have attracted the attention of both celebrities and media alike. Stars such as Jann Arden, Sarah McLachlan, Allyssa Milano, Cher, Vanessa Williams, and Hilary Duff are avid tile collectors.
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