“Mentor & Metalsmith is a personal tribute to my first teacher, Arthur Brecken, the man who started me in silver work.”
Mentor and Metalsmith the Silver Art of Arthur Brecken and Wesley Harris takes us on a journey through the intertwined careers of two master jewelers. By curating Arthur Brecken’s work into his own, Wesley Harris visually articulates the benefit of mentorship on a life’s work, and the rippling effect such support has on a community of artisans.
Arthur Brecken graduated in 1940 from Mount Allison University’s Applied Fine Arts program in Sackville, New Brunswick. After six years of teaching formally in the school system, Brecken routinely opened his Wedgwood Blue home in Erin, Ontario, lovingly calling it Kitchen College. Brecken also frequently mentored by commissioning intricate and challenging works from his students. The commissions would give the students the funds to purchase materials and spend the time required to push themselves and experiment. Most often these pieces would be returned to each student after a handful of years allowing them to build their bodies of work. A number of the pieces in Mentor and Metalsmith were created by virtue of this support.
Loaned by the family, are a selection of twenty three of Brecken’s finest silver work. Also included are eleven of Harris’ early pieces that echo those of his teacher while illustrating the development of Harris’ signature style of clean flowing lines and pure forms. The works included in this exhibition construct a narrative of how Harris’ career was sparked by his teacher and evolved over a lifetime of his achievements so far.
The exhibition is organized around themes that reinforce significant influences, techniques and fabrication methods. Both metalsmiths share a mastery of precision soldering employed as a construction technique to build up cumulative layers within their works. Various pairings and groupings of related works such as perfume bottles, letter openers, spoons and boxes invite comparison and illustrate their shared appreciation for learning and creativity that inspired innovation.
Mentor and Metalsmith the Silver Art of Arthur Brecken & Wesley Harris has toured across Canada with the support of the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council. From his studio in Newfoundland, Wesley Harris has produced an astounding body of work that explores the formal influence of nature & humor and exhibits precise construction and exquisite design.