Aug 22 to Sep 27, 2015

Charles Funnell, jewelry and metal artist, at work in his Cobourg studio.
Charles Funnell, jewelry and metal artist, at work in his Cobourg studio.

Colborne gallery to exhibit work of Cobourg artist

COLBORNE – Vital Energy, the very force that gives us life, is a concept that humanity has grappled with since the beginnings of conscious thought. Is it something to be harnessed, subdued, and channelled for personal benefit, or is it best left to its own natural course? However it may be perceived, one thing remains certain: Vital Energy is central to creativity, in any form. For Charles Funnell, this energy is not only the focus of his thought, but the force behind his masterful achievements in metal and mixed media.

Funnell, a member of The Colborne Art Gallery since 2012, is known for his jewelry and silversmithing, and his work has earned recognition at local and national levels, including several first-place and best-in-show awards for his sterling silver hollowware. Funnell’s creative virtuosity will be evident at his upcoming exhibition, opening on Saturday, Aug. 22 at the Colborne gallery.

The pieces which Funnell has produced for this show often blur the lines between functional or wearable pieces, and sculptural art. Many of his jewelry objects, when not being worn, dwell within a composition of mixed media including metal, stone and found objects. His hollowware sculptures may at first glance appear to be purely abstract organic forms, but upon closer observation, are revealed as functional objects, such as a tea set or vessels for oil and vinegar. These objects often suggest a transcendent meaning behind their physical existence, a transcendence of the physical, as expressed through physical objects.

This concept is also revealed through a very complex piece, State of the Union, a large necklace composed of female yoni forms linked by male sperm forms, each revealing a different aspect of the male-female relationship of energy and power. Issues of control, abuse, love, nurturing, creation, and competition, are all addressed within these links, skillfully executed through traditional and innovative jewelry techniques.

Funnell’s education in metal arts has been more through a succession of individual courses than a complete program. After receiving his BFA through York University, he studied at George Brown College, Haliburton School of the Arts, New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, and has learned through pioneering jewelry artists such as Lois Etherington Betteridge and Charles Lewton Brain.

His proficiency in metal-working and a sensitive handling of other materials such as ceramics, leather and printmaking, is apparent in all his works. He is always engaged in a form of creative problem solving, and discovering meaning within all of his experiences. For Funnell, the process of creation is ongoing, a metamorphosis that takes place over long periods of time, rather than a tidy story with a beginning, a middle and an end.

As an added treat for visitors, some of this creative development will be revealed through visual documentation of his process, prepared in collaboration with gallery member Rod Bergeron, and will be shown in the gallery’s New Media Room. Works by the rest of the gallery members will be on display in the Main Gallery and the Heritage Room.

Vital Energy runs from Aug. 22 to Sept. 27. The opening reception is a great opportunity for you to meet Charles Funnell and other gallery members, and will be held on Saturday, Aug. 22 from 2 to 4 p.m. All are welcome. Admission is free and The Colborne Art Gallery is wheelchair accessible. For more information, please visit

– Monika Devine

Scenes from the Opening Reception

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Vital Energy