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Artist Interview Series: Veronica Verkley’s animals

Veronica Verkley

Veronica Verkley has a lifelong fascination with animals. It influenced her art career early on, beginning with drawings and sculptures as a child and into her professional life today.

But it is more than the impressive beauty of the animal that captivated her; it was the power of their movement and the gesture of the form where her interest lies.

“Very early on, I got into depicting motion more—like depicting motion with motion,” Veronica says. “So, I did flipbooks, stop-motion animation, and then with sculpture working with animatronics and using motors, air cylinders and hydraulics or puppeteering to get things to move.”

Her work encompasses the animal in all its forms of mobility, showcasing through drawing, sculpture, installation, animation, animatronics and puppetry.

While studying at York University, Veronica was already picking up work as an artist. People would approach her with a project, and she would work to discover how to do it.

And this led her to film and an early career projection out of university.

“I just kind of fell into the animatronics thing,” she says. “Started working in film and all of the gigs that came my way had to do with animals and movement, which was my jam.”

When she started in film, animatronics was growing. It was her job to construct an animal for a film and have it move in a very specific way.

“How do you make something move? Well, a motor moves, so how can you get this circular motion of a motor to make this leg move in a linear way. How it translates circular motion into linear motion. So, you just figure that stuff out on the fly. ‘Well, I’ve got three weeks to do this. Better get going.’”

Inhalation by Veronica Verkley

Veronica has worked on numerous film projects in her career, too many to name. And that may have been it if it was not for a job being delayed and finding herself with time on her hands.

“My first taste of the Yukon, I was in Toronto. There was a heatwave in the summer, and I was about to start a big film project that was going to take many months. And then it got delayed by four weeks or something. And I thought, ‘Well, I’m not going to take another job on while I’m waiting for that job. So, I’m just going to relax until this big job starts. And I may as well relax somewhere else than here.”

But when Veronica travelled to the Yukon in 2001, she had no idea it would begin a love affair with the Canadian territory, its beauty and its people.

She kept finding reasons to go back. Whether it was an artist residency or a collaborative project, the geography called to her.

Veronica Verkley's studio

And it all began with a map, closed eyes and her finger.