Metal the medium at Willock & Sax Gallery
For many artists, process is simply how they produce their artwork. But for metal artist Charles Lewton-Brain, process is as integral to his art as the final product.
You could say his process is his art.
Lewton-Brain, a teacher, author and the 2012 Saidye Bronfman Award for Fine Craft recipient, pushes metal to its limits, exploring its abilities and qualities and in the process inventing and generously sharing his techniques, including foldforming.
His unique work and approach will be on display at Willock and Sax in Banff beginning Saturday (Oct. 6) with a reception from 3-5 p.m. and an artist’s talk at 3:30 p.m. The exhibition ends Oct. 13.
“It’s an interesting material,” Lewton-Brain said about metal, Monday (Oct. 1). “There’s no top end to what you can learn and there’s a lot of tactility, unlike most fields, so there’s a body relationship to the material. You can actually touch the object more than in any other field.”
As part of his current body of work, Lewton-Brain “grows” the metal pieces he uses to create grids and cages, using an 1870s electroforming technique.
Before he electroforms gold onto those pieces, using a tumbler and chunks of steel, he beats them up, ensuring they are as strong as they can be.
“I want my jewelry to be the same if you drop it afterwards. So if you drop it, it’ll be fine. It’s important for me that it is hard for you to hurt it. I want it to be not damageable so it stays the same for a long time. Often, jewelry is pretty sensitive and pretty easy to break, so I just want it to be durable,” he said.
And that connects to another aspect of his work creating work – his jewelry and wall pieces – that is functional, usable and tactile.
His work is meant to be worn, used and touched.
Lewton-Brain uses a grid to represent mainstream culture and its rules.
“I worked in the High Arctic for a while and I think that is when it first began to coalesce. A grid was like white culture, organization, rules and we were in the arctic jamming that onto another culture, onto another way of doing things,” he said.
“In general, the grid represents that we make rules and we choose things to live by and they restrict us, and we choose that restriction. Sometimes this is technology. When you choose the technological thing, you choose restrictions with it, but sometimes it is such fun you choose it anyway.”
Some of the 80-odd pieces that will be on display at Willock and Sax were part of a spring exhibition of Lewton-Brain’s work at the National Gallery of Canada.
For more information go to www.willockandsaxgallery.com
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