If you’ve spent any time wandering around downtown Victoria, you’ve probably seen metal artist Colin Macrae’s work. Those funky, elk-humping wall hangings at the Mint? His handiwork. The metal installation above the bar at Mole? Him, too. The stylized sign outside of Madrona Gallery? You guessed it: Macrae’s. But while his work can be found in many Victoria establishments (Macrae grew up here), he’s actually called Powell River home for the past three years, having relocated to the Sunshine Coast town on the advice of a friend.
“I came up here and was totally blown away by it,” he says. “This area has tonnes of potential, it’s just been a mill town for so many years and had that mentality. Now it’s changing because it’s really the only affordable place to buy something.”
Indeed, both artists at Madrona’s upcoming Sparklehaus exhibit —Macrae and painter Meghan Hildebrand — have settled in the isolated community. “It’s a blank canvas for anything and everything to happen,” says Macrae.
Macrae describes his whimsical metal collages as works that reflect what’s going on both inside his head and in the world around him. “Thoughts provoke sketches and drawings, and then I will just create a piece basically from a drawing,” he says. “It’s taken from just experiences, reflections on political, economic, emotional. It’s all tied in.”
After enlarging his drawing onto a cardboard template and hand bending the framework for the piece, Macrae welds it together, grinds it flat and backfills the work with found metal. Macrae frequently works with found materials and doesn’t manipulate the colours or textures of the pieces he finds — except copper, which he greens himself in his studio.
“It’s part of the whole idea of the work, too, is to reclaim things, take things out of their element and re-associate them,” Macrae explains. “I went to the Yukon a couple of years ago and I was pulling metal off of the old riverboat graveyard. So there will be metal in a piece that I’m doing for this show that has come from a riverboat that’s on a shore by Dawson City that was originally built in Victoria.”
Macrae says he’s always on the hunt for new places to scavenge metal for his artwork and commissioned pieces. “I’m thinking about going and checking out some of the old fish canneries up the coast here that have sat for years and trying to get some metal off that,” he muses. “It’s like being a crow. You’ve got to see where the shiny things are.” M
Sparklehaus: Megan Hildebrand & Colin MacraeOpening receptionSaturday, April 21pm-4pm and 6pm-10pmTo April 16Madrona Gallery, 606 Viewmadronagallery.com