By Jack Lawson –
Inside Shlomo Feldberg’s shed, safe from the sudden downpour, are pieces of metal, nails, and bits of wood painted a stark white.
Feldberg works with found objects: pop cans from restaurants, pieces of metal from junkyards, recycling bins, garage sales, and odds and ends from the Salvation Army. In early September, Feldberg, along with 16 other artists from the Kitchissippi area, is looking forward to opening the doors to his workshop.
“The urge to create was in me for a long time,” says Feldberg. “I lived in Israel after WWII as a refugee… where I lived was a very large area filled with destroyed houses – as you get after war.”
During these early days, Feldberg made an enclosure for Abeer, the family dog, out of wire, wood, and piping scavenged from the surrounding area. The family lived in a one-room house and folded their beds away during the day. Now Feldberg builds everything from lamps composed of teapots, or skylines made of pieces of wood, roots, and clockwork.
“When working with found objects a lot of the time you’re not even aware what that particular object will lead you to,” says Feldberg. “You might have a particular idea when you start to work on it, but it’s the material that dictates where I go.”
Feldberg points to a Chanukiah, or Menorah, that he made as an example. He gathered the spoons, knives, bronze cups, and forks to construct the piece. But, when attempting to mount it, he realized that the rock he was going to use gave the entire piece a reptilian cast. As a result, Feldberg finished the Chanukiah by making it appear to walk or crawl across the rock.
Much like how the materials can dictate the final form his artwork will take, Feldberg believes that the act of observing art is what completes it.
“People will react one way or another to what I create. Sometimes they will look at me and say: oh, did you make this because of such and such?” says Feldberg. “It enriches the piece because they think about it in a way that I might not.”
One of Feldberg’s favourite pieces was given its name by an 11-year-old girl.
Feldberg created a replica of the Canadian flag made of pins gathered from every province and territory. For the parts of the flag typically coloured red, Feldberg used pop cans he worked into strands. He estimates that he used over 200 pins and about 300 cans. The completed piece hangs on a heavy 32”x64” piece of whitewashed wood. The little girl suggested that it should be named CANada. Feldberg agreed.
“Some people say that a painting is never finished until it’s seen,” adds Wendy Feldberg, Shlomo’s wife and another artist on the tour. “Art is never finished until it gets a response from the viewer.”
Click here to read profiles of the other artists on the West End Studio Tour.