Saturday, February 12, 2011

Gallery - Confusion on 'competition'??

(this edited from a combination of recent letters by Darrell and Kelly)

There appears to be some misunderstanding currently about the Gallery at CanIRON 8. There were three slightly differing descriptions published, one in the Iron Trillium newsletter, one on the primary web site, and a third prepared for here on the blog. The core information had been delivered at several earlier OABA monthly meetings.
Kelly had thought that she had stated clearly that ALL works are welcome and encouraged in the Gallery. Almost all Gallery presentations have a "themed" portion to challenge its members/artists to create something within a specific set of parameters and have awarded nominal prizes for this. Perhaps the word 'competition' was the wrong word to use? It is just a system of recognition by your peers and those who are respected in the craft as a way of saying, "hey what a great job this guy did with these materials" or "what a unique way of interpreting that problem". If mere language is the problem, lets call it a 'Themed Challenge' instead.

No one is required to participate in the themed challenge, it is just an option, and if you dislike the theme then don't do a theme oriented piece... But please DO bring pieces to the gallery. Yet again - ALL WORKS WILL BE EXHIBITED - provided they fit into the space and can be moved without mechanical aid.

Once again ALL works will be displayed. Everything. Old, new, in process, experimental...

Once again, participation in the Gallery itself is NOT a competition. It is a Exhibition. It is there to display the work of the membership and all those who are visiting the conference in the hope that we can inspire both our own membership and the public, and boost our profile in the community at large.

But that does not stop us from recognizing exceptional works. This of itself is not meant to be intimidating, and hopefully good work is something we all aspire to.

There have been questions raised about the use of the term 'Traditional Joinery' to define the chosen Themed Challenge. We all are quite aware do that forge welding is a 'traditional' technique. It is simply excluded from this specific Themed Challenge for the purpose of an exercise. There needed to be a name. There needed to be definition. It is the role of the Gallery Co-Ordinator (called a curator in the art world) to set this theme.

It might also be good to remember that experience at the forge is not related to direct experience assembling effective Gallery exhibits. It was the stated intent of the CanIRON 8 organization team from day one to recruit experienced and capable individuals, then allow them to undertake their specific roles without attempting to micro-manage them.

Summery : The major points are this:

1) Anyone can bring ANY blacksmith related work they would like to display in the Gallery.
2) Its a large space, there is lots of space for lots of work.
3) You do have to be able to hand carry it through a standard door.


1) There will be some SPECIAL recognitions awarded - applied over EVERYTHING in the Gallery
2) The judges will include well known and experienced Ontario Blacksmiths, and hopefully some of the featured demonstrators. (not recruited yet)
3) There will be three awards : Best Use of Materials / Best in Show / Judges Choice
4) We hope that we can manage some actual prizes


1) People can ALSO enter specific objects in a 'Theme' category - named 'Traditional Joinery'
2) This has been specifically described as 'joints which are not welded or braised'
3) Any object in this specific category must have been made AFTER the last CanIRON (August 2009)
4) What will be judged is the THEME - as DEFINED (which may just be part of a more complex object)

Blacksmithing in Ontario has grown considerably in the 30 plus years since OABA was first formed. One of biggest continuing problems is our work is not taken seriously by the artistic community at large. Those of us with (extensive) experience with modern artists and craftspeople are attempting to change this.

Kelly Probyn-Smith - Gallery Co-Ordinator / elfworks(at)
Darrell Markewitz - CanIRON Team Leader / caniron(at)

If you have any questions regarding the Gallery at CanIRON 8, PLEASE contact us directly!

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