Mentor & Metalsmith, The Silver Art of Arthur Brecken & Wesley Harris

Mentor & Metalsmith was an exhibition in tribute to my high school art teacher, Arthur Brecken, the man who started me in silver work in 1972. The display included 23 of his finest silver pieces and 50 of mine that spanned my career and illlustrated how my style evolved out of his. 

This photo was taken at the time of the grand opening in March 2018 at the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador main gallery in St. John's. In the foreground can be seen one of several direct pairings of my work with that of my teacher's, namely my full scale Tea Service and Arthur's miniature Doll's Tea Set. A little farther back to the left is a pairing of our sculptural pieces inspired by nature -- my Labrador Wave and Arthur's Cattails. In addition to pairings and groupings of our work, the exhibition was also organized around several themes. In this photo, for example, can be seen signage for the themes of Nature & Gardens and Humour. Another theme was The Chinese Influence, and to the right in the photo is a pedestal containing works illustrating the themes of Faith, and Music.  

St. John's, Newfoundland, was the first stop for Mentor & Metalsmith on a cross-Canada tour of 5 galleries that unfolded over 12 months. Showings in Vancouver, Ontario, Halifax, and Corner Brook followed, and I travelled with the exhibit and met the public at each venue. A fully-illustrated 172 page catalogue was also published. Extra copies remain available for $49 CAD (including shipping). Payment is requested prior to delivery. If interested, please contact me by email: metalsmith@wesleyharris.ca

For the summer of 2018, Mentor & Metalsmith travelled to the Craft Council of British Columbia gallery on Granville Island in Vancouver. To the left in this photograph may be seen four of my hollowware pieces that connect to the theme of Gardens & Nature.
In the early autumn of 2018, Mentor & Metalsmith travelled to the Wellington County Museum & Archives in southern Ontario. It was like bringing the exhibit home to the area in which I grew up and where my teacher had lived and worked for the last 47 years of his life. One of the special visitors to this gallery was Canadian silversmith, Lois Etherington Betteridge (above). In 1975, Lois had taught and encouraged me during a five day metalsmithing workshop.
In Ontario, Mentor & Metalsmith was shown in exactly the same gallery as where Arthur Brecken had exhibited a solo show of his work in 1993. In addition to my returning to this room with 23 of his finest silver pieces, an important theme in the tribute was The Chinese Influence (foreground above) recalling Arthur's youth 100 years ago as the son of missionaries in China.
The next stop for Mentor & Metalsmith was at the Mary E. Black Gallery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Throughout the tour, I met with groups of students including those at the Ontario College of Art & Design, and with art classes from Erin District High School where Arthur had taught and where I studied. In Halifax, I shared the exhibit with members of the Nova Scotia Metal Arts Guild and with metalsmithing students from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design.
At each venue, I gave a Powerpoint presentation, which allowed me to share more about Arthur Brecken and his influence. In Halifax, two audience members (now in their late-'80s) had studied Applied Art at Mount Allison University at the same time that Arthur was there. I also shared images showing the technical process behind a few of my pieces.
From January to March 2019, the final stop for Mentor & Metalsmith was at the Tina Dolter Gallery in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. Here I met with art students from Sir Wilfred Grenfell College and gave the Powerpoint presentation twice. Throughout the tour, the media was 100% supportive — in Corner Brook, for example, the generous coverage by Bernice Hillier at CBC Radio stands out.