Junk Art #1 - Beauty lies with the beholder

Bob Gervais
Posted 04.14.07

LONDON, ONTARIO | When you drive by the front of John Zubick Ltd. Scrap Metals on Clarke Road here, just a bit north of Gore Road, you can't help but notice the pedestals silhouetted against the Western sky.

On each pedestal is a stark, angular figure made from scrap metal.

How did they get there? What's the story behind them? Those are the questions which caused an itch in my curiosity that I just had to scratch.

Skip back to the summer of 2004, to a house in London, where a man and his wife are enjoying a cup of tea after supper. "Sometimes, I see shapes in those piles when I'm driving around the scrap yard," Matt Zubick said. "I wonder if some kind of objects couldn't be made from all that stuff…"

Erin looked at him over the top of the Free Press she was reading. "Why don't you talk to Heather about it? She teaches Fine Arts somewhere in Calgary."

Not long after, Matt Zubick was talking to Tony McAuley from Fanshawe College in London and the 'Welded Wonders' project was under way. In 2005, the first year of the program the focus was on action figures.


The project is a leading example of how industry and the educational system can, cooperatively, contribute something to the community. It is also proves the old folk saying that 'one man's scrap is another man's gold.'

The partnership between the Zubick firm and Fanshawe is pretty straightforward. Zubick provides the raw materials and Fanshawe provides the creative talent.

junkHowever, Zubick's contribution to the project is more extensive than it appears. Not only do they provide the raw material for the future objets d'art, they also ensure a safe and secure working environment which includes hardhats, boots, coveralls, gloves, vehicles on the site, and the amenities of life. But the Zubick's don't just provide material; they also provide manpower. At the beginning of the projects, Luke Zubick drives students around the yard to view the piles of metal from which pieces and parts are selected and arranges for them to be transported to the safe area.

Once the material is ready for assembly to start, Jonathan Zubick puts on his welder's hood and fires up his torch.


Meanwhile, at Fanshaw, Tony McAuley, Coordinator of the Fine Arts Department and Paul Dreossi, economist turned welder-teacher, work out the academic details for the students.

The studio class in which the students are enrolled is a mandatory second-year course. How many students will there be? What will the theme be for this year? When will classes end? On what date will the judging take place?

Oh, yes…the judging!

In addition to everything else, the Zubick firm offers a prize of $1000 cash for the piece of art that the judges declare to be Best in Show'. The panel of judges is chosen, jointly, from among recognised members of the arts community in Ontario.

sculptureThe pieces currently on display on Clarke Road are those from the class of spring 2005. The pieces that were built by the class in 2006 never got to be seen by the judges. A labour dispute at Fanshawe College caused a disruption in academic activities, much to the chagrin and disappointment of the Fine Arts students. However, the panel of judges selected this year will be doing a double judging and the Zubick firm will award a cash prize for the best piece from each of 2006 and 2007.

To Part 2

Copyright © 2007 Robert Gervais/Log Cabin Chronicles/04.07