Elmira’s Sandra Bray has taken a different approach to making art. Putting down her pencils and paints, the artist has turned to found items to create her latest work using tin can lids as her medium.Working with members of the community during Canada Culture Days, Bray created a work of art that she felt best represented the community, a four-foot-long speckled trout sculpture.
The speckled trout, also known as the brook trout, was chosen as an icon of Woolwich Township because the habitat for trout is also a habitat where humans can thrive, said Bray.
“In our local watershed, we have lots of freshwater springs which keep the creeks and streams cool enough to suit the speckled trout. There are a lot of trout in the area and everyone knows about the fish, so I thought it would be more fun to create something that everyone was aware of.”
Bray had been collecting tin can lids for a while before the project started and likes working with the reclaimed metals. An environmentalist at heart, reusing materials to create art that can eventually be recycled itself suits her just fine.
“My initial motivation in artistic pursuits was to challenge my technical ability, to see what I could achieve with the medium that fascinated me at the moment,” she said adding she wanted everyone to be able to participate in the piece collaboratively and see what they would create.
Since the trout has small scales, she recruited some help in the form of Ron Cressman, Susan Gray, Susan Bryant, Annalise, Natasha and Katherine Walton, Trevor Lowry and Woolwich Mayor Todd Cowan, who hammered the small scale and fin patterns into the 221 lids before assembly began.
Cressman solved a construction problem by experimenting with pop rivets, which were eventually used to attach the lids to one another. The group ran into some difficulties finding the colours they needed for the speckles and decided to use black pop rivets and black paint to signify the speckles.
Bray said the sculpture was a dry run for a larger project she is hoping to create next year with community help, based on the green darter fish that lives in the Canagagigue Creek.
“There were only about 10 of those fish in the creek not so long ago but it has flourished over the last few years and almost 400 live there now,” said Bray. “That is a real success story and I think we should be celebrating its return.”
The artist is going to need a lot more tin cans as she plans to build a 20- to 25-foot sculpture of the little fish. She is looking for tin can lid donations, which can be dropped off at the Elmira library and the township office.
The Speckled Trout sculpture is currently on display at the Toronto Dominion Bank in downtown Elmira and will be moving to its permanent home, Woolwich’s administration building, later this year.