In the spring of 2009, Michael Binkley received an email from a gentleman who wanted the artist to carve three Moai sculptures for the house he was building in Whistler, BC, Canada. The two exchanged numerous emails, and a collaborative relationship was established. After many discussions and sketches, Binkley agreed to carve the sculptures six feet tall and from locally quarried Hardy Island grey granite. Each Moai head was to be unique, but they had to retain the iconic features of the originals. And they had to be finished in time for the Vancouver Winter Olympics Games in February, 2010.
Binkley finished the sculptures using four-point carbide tipped bushing chisels. This gives the surface of each sculpture a slightly rough texture akin to the surface of a bowl of porridge and pays homage to the Easter Island originals. The result leaves the granite with an appearance of being almost white from a distance when dry. And the matte surface gives the granite the ability to successfully hold shadows. Grey granite also has the ability to create its own light and even on dark, rainy days the stone appears to be a bright colour.
Originally the patron wanted the three heads to be placed in the forested landscape, but with so much snow in those areas when the installation took place, the patron decided to install the three sculptures in a row in front of the house.
During the 2010 Olympics, the sculptures were the centre of attention for photo opportunities with many visitors from around the world. This unexpected and overwhelming response from so many people helped determine that the sculptures would stay where they were placed, and the patron’s house has become known as “The House with the Heads” amongst the locals. They are indeed a powerful, yet whimsical image as they gaze out at the passing world!