‘The Iron Workers Union: Part 3’ starts October 15th at the Chapel Gallery

Seven artists – Chad Arney, Matt Church, Hilary Clark Cole, Andrew Cohrs, Mikaila Davidson, Brendan Duggan, and Deb Harkness – working in metal, have come together to create The Iron Workers’ Union: Part 3 that will be on display at the Chapel Gallery beginning on October 15.

“The show is a gathering of artists with metal in the blood,” states Clark Cole. “We all love the medium and enjoy exploring its endless possibilities.”

The historical roots of today’s artistic metalworkers span cultures, civilizations and the millennia. Three thousand years after iron ore was first plucked from the ground with curiosity to the time when the clank and clatter of the blacksmith’s anvil ushered in the Iron Age then to the Industrial Revolution that changed nearly everything, metalworkers have had a profound effect on civilizations.

Metalworking techniques are varied ranging from hammering, soldering, brazing, forging and welding that transform metal into objects that fire our imaginations, awe us with their beauty or encourage us to question why. “I find metal an infinite medium. I continually challenge myself to see what might be possible in metal and I have yet to find it,” comments Hilary.

Inspiration for their work is as varied as the group. “I get my inspiration from everything including mechanical and natural forms,” says Brendan. “It’s an accumulative process that will take a lifetime to complete.” When making pieces for this exhibition, emerging artist Mikaila, was inspired by science fiction movies, as she wanted to “make something that looked like it came straight out of an Alien or Predator movie, something that could give you nightmares.” Recycled materials found along roadsides, in the woods or trash that are left behind and forgotten are the muse for Chad who gives these modern day castoffs new life as fun and entertaining assemblages. Matt Church who comes from a long line of blacksmiths wanted to create something new, to break away from his usual way of working and force himself into uncharted territories.

Learning their craft has required years of schooling, mentoring, experimentation and practice. Some, such as Deb studied at college then went on to apprentice at a blacksmith shop for nine years before venturing out on her own. While Brendan trained at traditional schools, most of this knowledge of welding techniques came from working in a commercial welding shop. Although Hilary was trained in the disciplines of sculpture and welding at the Ontario College of Art and Design, over the years, she has often been forced to innovate because there was no one to teach her what she wanted to learn.

Visitors to this exhibition will see how these seven artists are able to work with the hard rigid metal of steel and found metal objects and transform them into fantastical found object sculptures, mechanical works, flowers or life-size animals. “I hope the viewer will realize how difficult and challenging this form of art can be,” states Deb. “I hope they enjoy the work and gets a sense of the many varied metal crafting techniques are and how they can be put together,” adds Brendan.

The Iron Workers’ Union: Part 3 opens with a public reception on Saturday, October 15 from 1pm until 4pm. The exhibition continues at the Chapel Gallery until November 12. The Chapel Gallery is located at 15 King Street in Bracebridge. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm until 5pm with admission by donation.

For more information, please visit www.muskokaartsandcrafts.com or call (705) 645-5501.

‘The Contingent Body’ runs in Bracebridge until Aug 13th

The newest show at the Chapel Gallery in Bracebridge, called ‘the Contingent Body’ will bring together the work of painter Carol Pollock and sculptor Donna Brock in an exploration of the figure in paint and stone and some of the approaches it can inspire.

This exhibition opens at the Chapel on Saturday 23rd with a public reception between 1 and 4pm.

“”My part of the show comprises figurative studies that offer a range from subtle abstraction to full-on representation – Holding Apples is one of the most abstract pieces in the collection, whereas many others such as Home Guard have evolved in a more representational manner. I let them self-determine as I go along”,” says Pollock.

“”My contribution to the show consists of stone sculptures presenting human forms emerging in various degrees of abstraction,”, remarks Brock. “”Promise, a moderately representational pregnant female form of gentle pink soapstone, leads to Promises, a large abstract suggesting multiple female pregnant forms in green-gray Appalachia soapstone. Advance, a small male torso emerging from white dolomite contrasts sharply with Suffering, a large male torso of gnarled orange and white alabaster.””

Pollock has always drawn and remembers her mother drawing at the kitchen table. When Nipissing University began offering fine-art classes in Bracebridge, she jumped at the opportunity to further her knowledge and skill. Works by painters Pollock sees in museums and online provides her with inspiration but more recently, it has been images from the past that she can relate to and that reflect the human condition.

““I have a cache of ever-growing images from which I choose something that I find intriguing; often they are of women or children,” explains Pollock. She begins by usually draw on a primed and toned canvas using the photographic images as a reference and then begins to paint. “”Throughout the process, I am drawing then painting then drawing again until the image resolves itself,” she explains. ““It is an ongoing exploration. My mantra comes from Picasso: Every piece is research. My aim is always to try to convey the ideas I have about my chosen subject matter – how it reflects the broader human condition and to expand my artistic vocabulary.””

Brock is a 4th generation stone carver through the men on her father’s side of the family. “

“Spending time with my dad at the stone shop was special, as he answered my questions about all the processes and equipment being used,” she recalls. “”Interestingly, my father tried to discourage me from pursuing stone carving and I didn’t take it up until after he passed away. I think he would have enjoyed my work. I know I would like to have shared it with him,” reveals Donna who honed her skills at the Haliburton School of Art & Design where she completed a one-month intensive stone carving course in 2004 and then a sculpture certificate program in figurative and representational work in the spring of 2008.”

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When Brock begins a new sculpture, “it’s the chicken-and-egg question – which comes first, the idea or the piece of stone?

““Once I have both the stone and the idea, I remove the excess stone by the easiest means possible”,” she explains. “Reductive sculpting is a bit tricky as once the stone is gone, there’s no replacing it.” To remove the stone, she uses the tools of the trade – hand and power tools, angle grinders, air hammers and sometimes a hammer and chisel. After roughing out the shape, a series of files and rifflers are used to refine the shape and remove tool marks. Then, hours of hand sanding creates a smooth, highly polished finish.

“Besides being brutally demanding physically, stone carving is really dirty work and there is absolutely nothing dainty about it,” says Brock. “”My greatest challenge is to be in tune with the type of stone I’m working with, understanding what it is capable of and the type of tools I need to coax the intended sculpture out of it.””

Both artists hope to connect with the viewers. “

“I work from found photographic images and I think most people can find themselves or someone they know in these forgotten moments. I hope they can appreciate the transformation that takes place when they are explored in paint,” explains Pollock.

““My hope would be that viewers experience some visceral response to my work, preferably a positive one but a negative one is acceptable too,” states Brock. “”It would mean that something in my work touched them deep inside, not just a cerebral response or intellectual calculation of the work’s meaning. I want them to feel something! I want them to have a relationship with my sculpture from the core of their being.”

The Contingent Body opens with a public reception on Saturday, July 23 from 1pm until 4pm. The Contingent Body continues at the Chapel Gallery until August 13.

The Chapel Gallery is located at 15 King Street in Bracebridge. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 10am to 1pm and from 2pm until 5pm with admission by donation.

For more information, please visit www.muskokaartsandcrafts.com or call (705) 645-5501.

(Photos: The Red Cowl, by Carol Pollock & Dancer, by Donna Brock)