With more than 25 years of experience and a piece in the National Gallery of Canada, Ken Gregory was not starting his career in the arts when he enrolled in the Artist Blacksmith program at the Haliburton School of Art + Design. But it was his dedication to the arts that made Ken decide to attend school.
“I see continually learning new things as a critical aspect of being an artist. My curious nature does not rest,” said Ken. “I continually add to my artist’s toolbox of skills, materials and knowledge on a regular basis. The art history, drawing and design classes, along with the studio time in the forge, dovetailed perfectly with where I am as an artist at this time.”
Ken has more than 25 years of experience in DIY interface design, hardware hacking, audio, video and computer programming. His piece 12 Motor Bells – an interactive audio/kinetic installation of salvaged alarm bells, fan motors, custom software and hardware – was acquired by the National Gallery of Canada in 2005.
“It’s a great honour to have one of my works included in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada,” said Ken, who explained that the acquisition was a result of the survey exhibition Cheap Meat Dreams and Acorns: 1993 to the present at the Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art Gallery in Winnipeg in 2004.
Ken said coincidentally the National Gallery of Canada’s Board of Directors were in town for an annual meeting and a local acquisition committee member recommended they stop in. “The director and deputy director of the NGC at the time approached me soon after their arrival and said they were interested in acquiring the work,” said Ken.
In addition to 12 Motor Bells, much of Ken’s art focuses on sound. For the past five years he has been studying and collecting the jaw harp instrument, many of which are hand forged.
“One of my goals when pursuing this program was to learn how to make one,” said Ken. “It doesn’t look like much but is incredibly difficult to get right, as well as how it mechanically goes together– it’s got to sound good too. The one I made is about 80% successful.”
Now that he is done classes, Ken plans to use the forge and basic tools in his backyard and keep practicing what he learned at the Haliburton School of Art + Design, which he said was a great experience.
“The staff, instructors and students all have a passion for creating things. Everyone is a source of inspiration in many ways,” said Ken. “The skills and knowledge I learned here will open many creative doors in my imagination.”
He added, “I’ll keep dreaming up ideas for art and making them real.”