Charles Funnell is an award-winning silversmith living in Coburg Ontario.
- What led you down this career path?
I think it was a few key mentors along the way who introduced me to metal. Lois Betteridge was the first, when I took my first silversmithing class at the Haliburton School of the Arts, she was passionate about her
work, about teaching and about spreading that enthusiasm around. She caught my attention and I felt embraced by her warm personality. One day during the class she came over to me and watched what I was doing and said with great sincerity that I would make a good silversmith. That was magic to my ears!
Also Brigitte Clavette with whom I was taking another silversmithing class from at Haliburton. Again during class one day Brigitte came over to me and said offhandedly, why don't you come to the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design, the next day I asked her if she was serious and she called the school to see if it would be possible and she got approval! The plan was to stay for 3 months, I left 2 years later. What a joy the college was and Brigitte was endlessly enthusiastic!
- What are the motivations behind your works, your techniques & approach or the themes that run through your artworks?
I love learning period! I also love learning new techniques and exploring them through developing a series that allows me to really get in there, to play and investigate. I like the word play, it summarizes much of what I do, though I am certainly guilty of often taking things far too seriously. It is usually more productive for me to let things happen, instead I often stew and analyse problems to my breaking point and then go back to the simple solution that was staring me in the face the whole time! I guess I subconsciously buy into the Van Gogh effect! Why do I to torture myself? I really just want to PLAY, isn't that what we all want to do? For me solving the problems that arise along the way is both the best and the worst part of creating, it is both endlessly frustrating and wonderfully euphoric rolled into one. Maybe that is a good way to describe the way I work, love and hate, they are intimately bound, I guess without the struggle it would all seems just too easy, another Van Goghism!
Themes that run through my work are more like currents. Movement in the work is usually present in some way, wether implied or actual. The works ebb and flow like a current! It is the idea of energy flowing and pulsating that interests me, it is how the interrelationships and complexities between the sexes manifest themselves, it is communicating layered messages or interpretations that intrigue me!
When I am working on any project, I try to use the technique that is going to suite that aim. I like to keep that approach as
broad as I can, to allow myself the freedom to be innovative and learn something new, either about the technique or about myself. I always want to push my own perceived limits, to surprise myself, to become more self-aware.
- What are the best (and worst) parts of running your own business?
As far as running a business is concerned, I am really challenged. Like most artists, I just want to make and forget about everything else. Still my focus is on making work that I am proud of and the business side comes in a distant second. However as time goes by I am realizing more and more how important the business part really is, I just wish I were better at it, I know practice makes perfect! Lately the learning business curve is definitely accelerating.
- What kind of commissions do you like the best? What would be your dream project?
As far as commissions are concerned, I have learned that I need to have the freedom to do what I want. When I have had commissions to do very prescribed work I have had huge problems getting them done, because I place such constgraints on myself that I feel paralyzed and stunted and am stuck, unable to move forward. A dream project might be to do something really large or not to have any financial restraints put on the project!