by Neil Carleton

Christine Mockett is an Ottawa artist who’s chosen ‘occupying a space’ as the theme for her Machine project.  With gaps, barriers, danger, and protection as the elements for this exhibition, she’s creating a video component that will show people working in industrial and studio settings.  This will include operating welding equipment as well as metal working machinery.  Dale Dunning’s Lost & Foundry sculpture studio, at 209 Old Union Hall Road in Mississippi Mills, was selected for a video shoot last Friday, November 9.

Dale Dunning’s Lost & Foundry sculpture studio was visited by the video team of Christine Mockett and Serguei Bouilenko on November 9th for the Machine project. Photo: © Neil Carleton 2012

Dale was casting an aluminum sculpture that morning and every step in the process was rich footage for the video.  Although each of us visitors jumped when the propane fueled furnace was ignited with a roar, it’s just the matter-of-fact sound of the foundry when the time has come to change solid metal into a glowing liquid.  As the intense heat weakened molecular bonds, and aluminum dripped into the glowing crucible, the stage was being set for another successful pour.

With the temperature climbing to 750 C, aluminum was soon melted for a new sculpture. Photo: © Neil Carleton 2012

Dale Dunning’s work in bronze and aluminum is well known close to home and across the country, from Montreal to Calgary.  Here’s the website for images of his sculpture and photography,

His remarkable sculpture ‘Greenman’ can easily be viewed in front of the Almonte General Hospital.  The bronze head emerging from a shell of bronze maple leaves, resting on a granite column, is part of the institution’s donor recognition program.  Information and photos about this local commission are available online at

With video camera running, Ottawa artist Christine Mockett captured each step in the casting process for an aluminum sculpture. Photo: © Neil Carleton 2012.

Mold positioned.  Check.  Sand poured.  Check.  Temperature of the liquid aluminum measured.  Check.  As the video shoot continued, the glowing crucible was carefully positioned and liquid aluminum soon flowed like a stream of lava.  While the equipment was put away, I was thinking of the gaps, barriers, danger and protection in this creative process that Christine was capturing for her exhibition video.

Liquid aluminum flowed like glowing lava to create a new sculpture.
Photo: © Neil Carleton. 2012

Look for the Machine project video in the spring as part of Ottawa’s Chinatown Remixed, a month long celebration of art on Somerset Street West that includes street festivities and artist vernissages.  It’s possible that the video might be available sooner at another venue too.  The video will be projected through a lace structure that contains words from an Occupational Health and Safety Plan.  The harsh colouring and rough contemporary structure of the lace will enable viewers to reflect on some of the challenging work environments that were recorded, and the role of fibre as a medium between danger and safety.

The theme of occupying a space, contrasted with gaps and absence, will be continued in an accompanying installation.  For the locations, dates and times of the Machine project video and installation, Christine Mockett can be reached at, 613-842-9061, or through her website

November 14 Update    The video component of Christine Mockett’s Machines project, which is funded by the City of Ottawa, is confirmed for November 23-30 as part of ‘Local Support’ at the EnviroCentre on 366 Rideau Street in Ottawa.  Also installed in the EnviroCentre’s window will be an accompanying installation that features safety goggles with a warning or safety word cut out of the lens in various languages.  The diversity of language is a reference to workers from other cultures who have immigrated to Canada, including Ottawa, and taken work in industrial settings.