If you visit an historical site that offers live demonstrations, you will almost always notice the largest throng of spectators is around the blacksmith. Perhaps it’s the rhythmic, chiming sound of a hammer on metal that draws people in, or the warm colours of molten metal when it is being heated and forged. Who knows how the smith captivates the crowd, but that same fascination exists when you walk into a metal forger’s workshop.
Most of us can only be so lucky as to do something we truly love and make a living at it. Richard Sturgeon is one of those people. All it took to find his dream job ten years ago was getting laid off from his day job, fixing scratched CD’s for a local business. Finding himself suddenly unemployed afforded Richard the opportunity to take workshops on self-employment, and thus began his venture into the world of art and more specifically, metal sculpture.
A former resident of the Old East Village, Richard maintains his studio, Metal in Fusion, in a building tucked in the back lot of a residence at 630 ½ Lorne Ave. He has recently taken on an extra space which is being renovated into a permanent gallery to showcase his and the crations of other OEV artists, which he expects to have opened by early spring 2014.
Walking into Richard’s studio could possibly help a person understand what it feels like to have ADHD. Shiny, pretty things abound and it’s near impossible to stay focused on one piece of art as the glint of metal from another catches your eye. Blending elements of wood and stone with sculpted metal, Richard’s art presents a unique fusion of natural and urban environments.
You can examine a piece and draw some sort of conclusion or interpretation of what you are seeing in it, until Richard gives it a name and tells the story of its inspiration.
For example, when I looked at “Gimme back my ring”, I saw a snagged kite flying off a branch at the top of a tree. Richard tells me it was inspired by the Tim Burton movie Big Fish, and the fish they called “The Beast” that stole the narrator’s wedding ring after he used it as bait. Aha! I looked at the piece again and saw a big fish, a fishing line and what looked like a heart at the end, perhaps representing the storyteller’s wedding ring.
“The Old Guy”, which I thought resembled a crane-like bird, was inspired by a Paul Quarrington novel, Fishing With My Old Guy. Aha, again! I suddenly saw a tangle of lines, or maybe a big fishing net and the bent spine of an old fisherman tangled up in it all. And that right there is the beauty of art: No matter the title, perception or inspiration, it is always up for interpretation.
Attracting a national and international audience, Richard’s art work can be found locally from London to Toronto and Tobermory, and as far away as Chicago. While browsing the Metal in Fusion Facebook page I was amazed to read that one of his Georgian Tree pieces made its way to a new home in Holland, the new owners purchasing it as a reminder of their holidays in the Georgian Bay area, and the beauty they saw in Canada. They mentioned in their post what I too recognized in the beautifully sculpted tree: an apparent (if not unwitting) hat tip to the incredible art of the Group of Seven.
Richard’s art has also found a place in the community. When you pass the Unity Project in Old East London, take a look at the new fence installed around the front of the property. That fence was designed and forged by Richard.
It can also be found in the hands of recipients of Pillar Community Innovation Awards which celebrates nonprofits and charities and the individuals who work with them to make the community better and brighter.
And just last fall, Richard was commissioned to make gorgeous stainless steel replicas of the trophy awarded on the CBC television show Battle of the Blades, which were presented to the top fundraisers from the show, Scott Thornton and Amanda Evora.
If you would like to own your own original piece, Richard’s art can be found in London at Gift of Art, 575 Richmond Street, or at his studio 630 ½ Lorne Ave by appointment or commission. In Tobermory look for his metal sculptures at Circle Arts, or in Toronto at the Petroff Gallery. He will also be taking part in the London Artist Studio Tour for the 5th time, from May 2-4, 2014.
Cover photo of Richard Sturgeon © RS Cousins Photography https://www.facebook.com/rscousinsphotography