Sooke Fine Arts
Blacksmith, Sculptor net awards
Wark, Sooke News Mirror
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
East Sooke blacksmith Sandy Sydnam had
been encouraged for years to submit her work to Sooke Fine Arts. This
year she finally relented and was accepted into the juried event.
Sooke sculptor Jan Johnson can only remember two times he did not have
a piece in the 18 year-old event.
Though the length of their experience
with the show varies, both artists received awards for their creations
at the show's official opening Friday night. Sydnam was the first-ever
winner of the Sooke Harbour House award for the best three-dimensional
art in the show for her piece Organic Gate. Meanwhile, Johnson earned
the Sooke Community Arts Council Award for the best artwork done by a
artist residing in the Sooke region.
Both artists said they were honoured by
their respective awards.
"Coming out this rosy is pretty special
to me," Sydnam said. "I am quite thrilled that people like the work.
It might encourage me to do a lot more."
Johnson and Sydnam also feel having
their creations in the same room as such works as watercolours and
clay sculptures just shows the diversity of the show.
"It is a real feast of art," Johnson
The show runs through Sunday at the SEAPARC Leisure Complex. The show
is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Eric Charman opened the show Friday
night with a humourous, yet passionate speech. Charman touched on a
variety of subjects, including cautioning artists about getting too
disappointed if they did not get in. Charman, a Victoria arts
supporter and philanthropist, noted there are many talented laywers in
this country that disagree with judges's rulings. With representatives
of municipal, federal and provincial government seated behind him,
Charman campaigned for more dollars to be put into the arts. He said
it is always where governments look first to make cuts.
Also during Friday's ceremony, Cindy
Shin-Min Wang received the Myfanwy Spencer Pavelic Award for best in
show for her piece entitled Island's Temperature 1. The award is
sponsoed by the Sooke News Mirror. Daniel Sikorsyki received the
Audrey St. Denys Johnson Award, co-sponsored by Lens & Shutter, for
photography for Jack Daniel's.
For some, a blacksmith is not immediately thought of as an artist.
Sydnam can tell tales of horse owners bringing their steeds to her
Leda Road studio and asking her to shoe them.
"It's not jut shoeing horses," Sydnam said with a laugh. In fact, she
does not know how.
What Sydnam does know is how to mix the
age-old principles of blacksmith work with contemporary ideas.
"Everything is done the old-fashion way
and using coal," she said.
However, Sydnam allows herself to try
new things with her blacksmith skills. Organic Gate is certainly not a
traditional blacksmith piece. The four-foot by just over five and a
half-foot tall work features decorative hand hammering on the mild
"'Organic Gate' is a transition from the
outside world into the 'haven' or garden," reads the description in
the Sooke Fine Arts catalogue. "This piece of contemporary art
symbolizes the change derived from an industrial product and through
heat and hammering to a welcoming passageway."
Sydnam's interest in blacksmith work was
piqued as child when she visited pioneer villages. In 1996, the former
Victoria truck driver and photographer moved with her husband to East
Sooke to pursue her passion for blacksmithing.
That year she started a three-year
apprenticeship under Vancouver Island blacksmith Harold Hennigar, as
well as learning from fellow veteran Frank Clayton. Their teachings
are the basis of her work to this day.
While many of Sydnam's pieces are functional pieces of art, Johnson
likes to take everyday objects and turn them into something different.
Global Round features the chain and gears from an old manure spreader.
The base of the project was once a bed frame.
The chain still goes round, but what is
on it is not smelly but rather crafted figures. Among those featured
are kings, queens, salesmen, missionaries and restaurant icon Ronald
McDonald. The idea is to show how certain people in society repeat
themselves in history and around the globe, according to Johnson.
As a transportation economist working as a consultant, Johnson travels
frequently. In June, he returned from a stint in Laos. While it is his
time away - which makes him conscious of globalization - inspired his
award-winning piece, Johnson also enjoys his time at Sooke, where he
has had a house since 1975.
"It is nice to come back home and play
in the workshop," he said.
Johnson learned how to use a welder
while growing up on a Wyoming ranch. However, it was not until the
former U.S. Army platoon leader returned from Vietnam in 1966, that he
started exploring the artistic opportunities metal provided.
© Copyright 2004 Sooke News Mirror
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Owner: Sandy Sydnam
Address: 5931 Leda Road, (East Sooke)
Sooke, BC V0S 1N0
Phone: (250) 642-7225
Fax: (250) 642-7055
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