Art Exhibit: Looking Back – Forging Forward: Trench Art & Ronald Boaks | Niagara Pumphouse

An exciting new exhibit juxtaposes contemporary found object sculptures with trench art created during the First World War 100 years ago.

Looking Back – Forging Forward: Trench Art & Ronald Boaks opens at the Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre on Thursday, August 15 and runs until September 29. A free reception is being held Thursday, August 15 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. All are welcome.

Niagara-on-the-Lake artist Ronald Boaks has created a series of intriguing sculptures from pieces of metal and other material salvaged from junkyards and elsewhere. The sculptures are displayed alongside both utilitarian and artistic objects crafted by soldiers in the trenches during the Great War, 1914-1918.

“There are some similarities between my methods and trench art,” says Boaks, noting that his creative process starts with seeing the relationship between objects.
“The biggest difference is that the soldiers were under extreme duress that could be escalated at any time. Thanks to them, I do it in peace – definitely a luxury.”

Looking Back – Forging Forward is presented by the Niagara Pumphouse in partnership with the Niagara Historical Society & Museum, Niagara Military Museum and Parks Canada, all of whom have loaned trench art pieces for the exhibit.

Inspired by Niagara’s history, the exhibition is part of a series of educational, pop-up art installations offering opportunities and art experiences for all ages and interests, through the generous support of Niagara Region’s Niagara Investment in Culture Program.

Trench art pieces include hand-punched vases made from artillery shells, ash trays, metal maple leafs and cutlery, while Boaks’ works include welded steel chariots, human-like figures and objects that combine metal and wood.

“The difficulty is in creating something with character that makes the viewer see the result as such, rather than just a bunch of stuff stuck together,” Boaks says. “Like a good illustration or painting, the sculpture takes you elsewhere.”

Boaks will host a group of 10 people on August 29 to tour his studio to collaborate in producing a layout for a sculpture to further their appreciation for the process of additive/subtractive sculpture.

This event has already taken place.