BY ELIZABETH NOLAN
For Salt Spring Arts
Artcraft’s second showcase exhibition of the season opens Friday, July 14 on the Mahon Hall stage with an exciting collaboration between two island creative groups. Elemental: Wood and Metal features examples of work from the Salt Spring Island Woodworkers Guild, Salt Spring Island Blacksmiths Group and other island metalworkers and woodworkers.
Members of the exhibiting group explain the two crafts of wood and metal work have long been associated in decorative and practical practice.
“Historically, a woodworker would incorporate metal hardware on practical pieces along with decorative elements in steel, bronze and precious metals,” said Elemental coordinator Bryn Finer. “This continues today in practical items such as tools, musical instruments and more. This showcase strives to show the many possibilities of these collaborations as well as featuring the best examples of both crafts.”
Finer has been one of the people to reactivate interest in the Salt Spring Island Woodworkers Guild in recent years, but as he noted it has a long history in the Gulf Islands and often joined others in presenting semi-annual shows of works.
“I really enjoyed it when I first moved here, in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s,” Finer said, adding known craftsmen like Illtyd Perkins, Bob McKay and Roger Warren were among the guild’s driving forces in those days.
Many of the early shows were based on themes such as Boxed In and Time Flies, as well as challenge-themed events. For The 2X4 Show, for example, artists were constrained by a specified raw material, including size.
“Some fabulous things came out of that,” Finer said.
Island metalworkers participating in the showcase include, but are not limited to, members of the Salt Spring Blacksmiths Group, which has been around for 15 years. They are a small group comprising both self-taught and trained smiths who gather at the Salt Spring Farmers’ Institute to share techniques and hold demonstrations. Finer’s son Eben is one of the next generation working in both wood and metal. He is often at the Farmers’ Institute on Sundays to open the workshop for young apprentices and anyone else who wants to advance a project or learn some techniques.
“It’s a great group with great interest; more and more people want to come in,” Eben reported.
Pieces to be featured in the show will include examples of fine furniture, instruments, functional objects like vases and bowls, sculptural artworks and more. Artisans confirmed to be participating along with the Finers include Katherine Ackerman, Barry Chatwin, Martin Herbert, Nick Hodson, Peter McFarlane, Steve Paterson, Peter Pierobon, Peter B. Reiner, Nycki Samuels, Jeri Sparshu and Grant Wickland.
An opening reception for Elemental will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, July 14, with an artists’ talk scheduled for July 28 at 5:30 p.m. The show runs to Aug. 14 during Artcraft hours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.