Bob Gervais
Posted 04.28.07

LONDON, ONTARIO: At 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 26, three judges gathered here to decide which objet d'art, from each Fanshawe College class year, merited the distinction of being, as the song says, "Simply the best."

Before the judging took place, I asked myself the question: 'When you start with a pile of scrap metal, how can you possibly add value?'

If your assignment was to create a piece of art, using only recycled or scrap metal, depicting "A beast in motion," which beast would you pick? Based on what criteria?

Everything from a flea to a lion to a squid to an eagle was considered by the Fanshawe students. That was at the beginning.

When the semester ended, five creative pieces of art, built solely from scrap metal available in a recycling yard, were put on display in the parking lot of the Marconi Club on Clarke road here.

junk art

These five creatures were accompanied by the creations from the 2005-06 academic year at Fanshawe, based on the criteria "Jump and Jive."

junk artThey were transported 800 metres distance by three members of the Zubick crew at 4 A.M. using two large forklifts and a Safety Vehicle. (The Zubick folks are real strong on safety). In about an hour, all ten objets d'art were in place for viewing and judging.

Bruce Zubick, co-operator of John Zubick Ltd., talked about the judging process the day before the move:

"The very first thing will be How closely does the work of art reflect the theme that was given? Let's go out and look at the piece that won the competition in the 2004-5 year, the year we started the project; I'll show you what I mean."

junk artAs we stood beneath the piece that had been selected as best in show, he said "See how the hair hangs down, the leg is arched and the arm raised? That's totally consistent with the theme of the assignment. Were there some pieces that made use of more scrap metal? Sure! Were there some that were more creative in terms of what they depicted, like singers and welders? Absolutely! But, in the view of the judging panel, none captured the 'body in motion' theme as well as this one."

"So, that's how I will approach the judging this year -- I'm sure that the sculptor and the media guy will have a totally different view and that will make it interesting."

But, while the class was Fine Arts, the learning that took place among the students also touched the fine art of living.

"There were six in our team working on the shark," said Reannon Price, a native of Windsor, "The most important thing, for me, was realizing how important compromise was to the success of our project and, actually, for life in general."

Brandon Thompson from Brantford said "Group situations with a whole range of different opinions were the most difficult part of the course for me. But, I think that my industry experience gave me an edge at just getting on with the job of creating the octopus."

A fledgling artist, Natalie Rowe of Oshawa, loaded the dice a little. " I suspect that my sketchbook drawing of 'The Eagle' probably made it easy for our group to quickly decide what we wanted to build. But, it was our ability to work as a team that helped the most. Well, that and the absolutely positive influence and support that Paul, our instructor, provided."

One of the recent graduates joined the group and embraced Paul warmly.

"Now that you are no longer my teacher I can hug you for all the help and support you offered!" she said, while the gallery applauded and Paul blushed.

All of the students echoed two enthusiastic themes. The unflagging encouragement and support of their instructor and the unstinting help from all the staff at Zubick's that helped them stay on time with their projects.

junk artThe three judges were Pat Thibert,( a sculptor from the London area and a former Fanshawe Art teacher), Gord Hume, (a media person, City Councillor, and the Chair of the London Creative Cities Study Group), and Bruce Zubick, They wandered among the art works for the better part of an hour.

"One has to walk around the piece and view it from all angles," said Pat. "And, while doing so, ask your self 'Does it speak to me? What does it say?' Is there consistency throughout the form of the shape and how does the material used compare to the subject of the piece?"

He added a lot of other remarks that made me wish that I had taken one of his classes.

junk art"As the student works on a piece of art, he or she finds out a little more about who he or she really is, based on their individual personal experiences. One of the tricks is to never lose the original 'rawness' of one's creativity. However, one must also learn to modify it based on the sophistication that is added through one's experience."

Gord Hume peered intently at each piece, his face a mirror of his emotions. "I am bowled over by the talent exhibited here by the students. The creativity on display is exactly the kind of thing that this city needs to attract new people, new blood, and new business." Look at how they have used smaller pieces of metal to reflect the toughness of the rhino hide…this judging is not going to be a cakewalk."

junk art

The judges chose the cleanly articulated dancer, a creation of Michelle McGeean, Jessica Shevalier, Kate Murry, Adam Grenier and Mike Angel, as Best in Show of the 'Jump and Jive' theme for 2005-6.

The Octopus (see lead photograph), was the best of the 'Beasts in Motion', built by the team of Wendy Mcintyre, Joshua Peressoti, Taryn Henry, Brandon Thompson, and Laura Mitro in the 2006-7 year.

Each group was awarded a $1000 prize by the Zubick firm.

"How long will the pieces be on display in the parking lot here?" I asked Luke Zubick, one of the crew who had moved them over in the pre-dawn hours.

"Oh, we'll be taking them back over to our place tonight, inside the security fence," he explained. "There are too many liability issues and added security costs to leave them out."

"What will happen to these pieces after that?"

"We're working on a way to leave the available on display for folks to view them safely. And Matt would still like, at some point, to follow up the idea of an auction."

'Hmmm,' I thought, 'auction. Maybe we could sound out some of the sports teams like the Philadelphia Eagles or the San José Sharks.' But I suppose that's a whole new project.

But if you happen to be coming to London, take a drive past Zubick's on Clarke Road . . . and bring your camera so you can at least take home a 'welded wonder' in print.

And if you want to drop in and say "Hello" to Matt, that's okay, too.

To Part 1
To Part 2

Copyright © 2007 Robert Gervais/Log Cabin Chronicles/04.07