William Hodd (Bill) McElcheran
1927 - 1999
Born in Hamilton, Ontario, William McElcheran studied at the Ontario College of Art. He studied painting before sculpture, but gravitated to painters who dealt with sculptural forms. When he crossed into the realm of sculpture, European artists such as Giacomo Manzů, Jacques Lipchitz, Wilhelm Lehmbruck, Ernst Barlach and Gerhard Marcks attracted him. McElcheran was also interested in old master artists such as Donatello, Michelangelo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and he loved classicism, which dealt with the heroic, the larger-than-life figure.
From 1955 to 1960 he was the chief designer for Bruce Brown and Brisley Architects, during which time he planned and designed 23 churches and university buildings. He taught sculpture at the Ontario College of Art from 1960 to 1967, and was artist-in-residence at the University of Toronto’s School of Architecture from 1970 to 1974. In 1973 he established Daedalus Designs, and producing public sculpture in Canada, the United States and Europe. In 1975 he moved to Pietrasanta in Italy for a number of years to be close to a foundry there and artisans skilled in bronze casting. While there, he exhibited in Pietrasanta’s International Sculpture Exhibition in 1977 and 1978.
McElcheran is renowned for his volumetric businessman figures cast in bronze. Clothed in their business costume of coat, tie, hat and briefcase, these figures hustle through their busy day, working within the confines of the structures and expectations of society. McElcheran’s viewpoint is satirical but empathetic – he communicates a sense of nostalgia for these men, who are driven to succeed, to acquire, to conform, to attain power, yet are controlled by their own system.
McElcheran’s sculptures can be seen in many public collections, such as the Toronto Stock Exchange, Dundas Station, Toronto Transit Commission, McMaster University, York University, the University of Toronto, on Wellington Street and at Bay and King Street in Toronto, Odette Sculpture Park in Windsor and Stephen Avenue in Calgary, among others.