Drawn from the earth
Kelly Gough has been electrocuted a number of times.
The metal artist used to work for the Canadian Military as a social worker, but she started off training to be a radio technician.
“We used to get shocks and they’d make us do push ups,” she laughed. Her instructors would explain how to discharge the old enormous computers properly but about the half the class would forget a step and then there would be a big “bang”, she said.
“The instructors would say, ‘Out in the hall—give me 50,” she recalled.
About 10 years ago, Gough took the fine arts program at The North Island College (NIC) in Courtenay and once she was given metal to play with, she was hooked. She began weaving together pieces of aluminum flashing which led to an exploration of other metals.
She soon fell for copper and many of her shiny metal baskets and sculptures will be at an art show called Old Growth at The Old School House Arts Centre with two other metal artists, David Kasprick of Red Cod Forge in Nanoose Bay and Catherine Lavelle of Gabriola Island.
This is the first show featuring three metal artists at TOSH in at least a decade confirmed Corinne James, executive director. The exhibition runs from June 23 to July 13 with an opening reception June 25 at 7 p.m.
Today Gough finds copper and other scrap metals to make her three dimensional pieces from garage sales, scrap yards and thrift shops.
“My favourite places to go are scrapyards—it’s like Christmas there, I go shopping and you just find the coolest stuff,” she said.
Gough was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression in 2001 following her work with the military for 22 years. She said her art work today keeps her safe and focused.
“It’s very healing and meditative, especially working with my hands, I can kind of drift off and I’m safe,” she said.
In 2010 she completed her Fine Arts Degree with Emily Carr University through NIC.
Her pieces in Old Growth include some baskets that she weaved with bicycle spokes and copper wire. The Industrial coating present on discarded copper gives many of Gough’s pieces a polished allure.
Dave Kasprick creates artistic metal sculptures using traditional blacksmith methods in his backyard studio. For Old Growth he is creating a large fiddlehead sculpture with the help of his assistant, Taryn Scammell. They are also making some smaller fiddlehead pieces.
Kasprick will have a collaborative marine piece in the show with fellow Nanoose Bay artist, Jay Holbrook featuring kelp and herring. Holbrook’s exhibition called Metalwork will run the same dates as Old Growth at TOSH.
Two nature photographs were the inspiration for a couple of Kasprick’s pieces, taken by local photographer Randy Hall and Kasprick’s metal assistant Scammell, who is also a professional photographer.
Lavelle recently relocated to Gabriola Island from Courtenay. She said the title Old Growth is more metaphorical than literal to her. Just as there are stages and cycles in the growth of a forest, the body of work she is presenting at the exhibition is a completion of a stage in her development as an artist.
“I’m uncertain what the next stage is, although I do believe that the seeds of the idea for the next piece are contained in the last one made. Just as I learned as a child not to force open the bud before the flower has developed, I am waiting for this transition to unfold at its own pace.”
Lavelle has a fine arts degree from Emily Carr University of Art & Design. Although she does work alone, she prefers to collaborate with other artists.
Gough said the metal work from the three artists are very different but complement each other.
“I’m really proud of the work we all do because it’s really unique and yet it all speaks well together,” she said.
For more information visit www.theoldschoolhouse.org or call 250-752-6133. For more on Gough visit her website www.kellygough.com. Find Kasprick on Facebook: Red Cod Forge.