The latest exhibition featured at Elora’s Centre for the Arts is ‘The In Between’, by artist and blacksmith Sandra Dunn. The exhibit sets out to showcase the artist’s creative process, featuring actual samples of completed pieces. The inspiration for the exhibition is a quote from T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Hollow Men’ – “Between the idea, and the reality”. This quote forms the meditation for the entire process that is on display.

The exhibition begins at the very beginning, with drawings of potential projects. The drawings feature a variety of perspective. There are first hand observation drawings, conceptual drawings, and technical drawings. Any of these can provide the blueprint for projects themselves. Inspiration can come from so many places. The diversity of sources is impressive. 

Photos of the process are the next step in the exhibition. Photographer Darin White captured the details of the process that happens at Dunn’s main workplace, her business, Two Smiths. White operated his photography business out of Two Smiths in 2017. This close proximity gave him intimate access to the artistic practice. It’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes look that gives the viewer a new appreciation for how art comes into being. 

Dunn has created large scale art for private and public showings. Smaller, scaled down versions are on display to give viewers a sample of Dunn’s most well-known works. Her work has been featured throughout the Kitchener-Waterloo area. At the Grand River Hospital ION stop, her piece “Spinal Column” is part of the ION public art featured through the region. Dunn also created a World War II commemoration sculpture from forged steel, bent wood, aluminum, and copper. These are examples of the samples available for viewers to enjoy as part of the exhibition. 

The tools themselves featured in this exhibition are works of art in their own right. According to Dunn, they often have to be created by the artist herself. Tongs, hammer drift, slitting chisel, cross peen hammer, centre punch, cabinet makers hammer, copper square, wooden mallet, raising stake, raising hammer, raising tool, Planishing hammer, and a planishing stakes are all featured as necessary tools in the artist’s toolbox. Dunn and her team even made the shelves on which the tools are displayed. 

The final component of the exhibition is ‘To Make This Copper Cup’. Beautiful copper work is displayed, the final step in what is clearly a detailed process. It’s always fascinating to see the end result of raw materials, tools, and so much time and patience turn into something tangible. The simplicity of the pieces themselves just emphasize what a complex and intricate process is involved to create these works of art. 

This is the first time Dunn’s work is being exhibited at the Elora Centre for the Arts. Dunn and her team is based in Kitchener-Waterloo. Her studio Two Smiths functions as her workshop as well as a classroom for other aspiring artists in metalworks. Dunn has had her work featured internationally. She has also lectured in Belgium, France, Australia and the United States. 

The In Between is a meditation on the process of creating art. It emphasizes the collaborative approach necessary move this process forward, and to create final works of art. This is an incredibly accessible exhibit, that will hopefully inspire a greater appreciation of metalworks in viewers. This exhibition puts the artistic process under the microscope, giving us all a profound recognition of the talent of the artist, and the beauty of the creative journey.

The In Between is at the Elora Centre for the Arts until April 17, 2022.

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