Past a neatly-graveled driveway in Whitehorse’s Granger subdivision, inside a vinyl-sided and unassuming house and down a set of quietly-carpeted stairs is a hidden den of chaotic creativity.
Inside, Candice Ball sits at her jeweler’s bench, meditatively filing a hunk of gold.
Working swiftly with deft fingers, she shapes the gold, honing it from a misshapen lump into a work of art.
Her workshop is hung with an assortment of tools, strewn with metal shavings, fine-toothed saw blades and scraps of titanium. Piles of used clay and cuttlefish bone sit next to a collection of brightly coloured rings and more lumps of precious metals, waiting to be crafted. Each one is a unique cast made with Ball’s own secret process that she would only describe as historically “primitive.”
Ball works quickly. She only has a few days to finish a series of pieces that will be displayed on Friday at Arts Underground.
“It’s been really busy, but I like it like that,” she says.
Ball is one of three artists exhibiting at a show called Hybrid. It opens on Friday at the gallery below the Hougen Centre, and runs until the end of the month.
The show is a combination of three different styles of art. Ball, a jeweler and metalsmith, is contributing a series of canvas pieces combining high-end jewelry and more interpretive abstract work. Amber Walker’s work focuses on mostly black and white sketches, and Ange Bonnici will be showing photo collages of Dawson City in the winter.
The three styles were sort of thrown together, Ball said.
“I know that the three of us didn’t really know each other or what each one was going to do. For me, personally, Hybrid was an intuitive expression of myself,” Ball said.
“It was free passage to do whatever I wanted to and experiment with things that I couldn’t really do before.”
About 50 per cent of Ball’s work is fine art to be hung on walls. The other half is more traditional jewelry that is available at a wide selection of Whitehorse boutiques and galleries.
The goal with her work for Hybrid, she said, was to evoke emotions and reactions from the viewer.
“It’s not really jewelry, it’s not really canvas. It’s its own unique thing. I wanted the person to actually feel what I was feeling and what I put into it, to open their eyes and say, ‘This is something I’ve never seen before,’” she said.
Ball learned her craft about a decade ago at Ontario’s Georgian College. While her work is anything but ordinary, her arrival in the Yukon is almost classic.
“I came up here to visit a cousin, and got a job at Murdoch’s. That was my first real goldsmithing job. And I met a man, now my husband, and here I am,” she said.
Much of her work has a quiet, contemplative feel to it. The pieces in Hybrid invite the viewer to decide for themselves exactly what they feel, with whimsical circles and brightly-coloured string.
But that sense of calm belies Ball’s hectic lifestyle. When she’s not busy sculpting, casting and anodizing, she builds her own tools – including a hydraulic press and an assortment of hand tools. She also delivers mail for Canada Post and takes care of an 18-month-old baby.
She has about 25 pieces ready for Hybrid, with a few others left to finish before the show’s opening on Friday.
Amber Walker has already finished her contribution to the show. Her sketches are an expression of various themes of freedom, she said.
“I really wanted to focus on this idea of freedom, and things like how the media is fed to us, and certain women’s issues,” she said.
The mostly black-and-white sketches feature flowing lines and dreamlike mindscapes, many with flowers as the roots of each piece. The flowers come from Walker’s Aztec heritage, combined with her Southern Tutchone and Mexican bloodlines.
The show came out of a proposal Walker submitted last year, and the trio was sort of thrown together, Walker said.
Her works are finished, and she’s excited to see all the pieces hanging together at the opening, Walker said.
“I was a little nervous at first because I was thinking this is really hard, black and white. How will that go with a copper artist and a photographer?” she said.
The show’s opening reception is on Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Arts Underground and runs until Sept. 28.