Monday, October 2, 2017

Evan Rensch - Enterprise Faucett Foundry

Evan Rensch - Photographer

During my daily walk I saw a graceful hawk soaring and gliding over the salt water marsh. When I see birds or other wildlife like this, I'm always transfixed and excited to see them. I'm of the belief they are signs or perhaps a spirit animal, especially when seen frequently.

I was immediately reminded of someone in my past that I once thought I loved and had motivated me to create a painting of a Fox and a Hawk. I was later saddened that my hopeful thoughts of love had been dashed. But I dodged another bullet. I'm no longer that hopeless romantic I once was, but I see myself as a hopeful romantic.

Throughout the ages artists are inspired by love and romanticism to create. It can be heart rendering to read a poem about unrequited love, or a spurred lover who's life comes to an end, because of a broken heart. The awesomeness of nature inspires thoughts of the divine when expressed in music or song and the horror of war can be depicted in the view of a camera lens that can haunt with grief and emotion.

Artists can be mocked for sentimentality, idealism or romanticism. That said, I see the role of the artist and art, to  inspire, to move, provoke thought, and even change lives. Not necessarily through sentimentality or by simply making something pretty or beautiful, but through creating art work making us reflect, perhaps even shock, that challenges us to open our mind or causes a combination of several responses, all at the same time.

In 2012 I saw an exhibition of photographs that touched me deeply, made me both happy and sad. I felt loss and a gain, pride in a sense of heritage and personal identity.

Evan Rensch's exhibit entitled Enterprise is a series of matter-of-fact photographs of the workers inside the Enterprise Faucett Foundry in Sackville, New Brunswick. This exhibit at the Owens Gallery on the Mount Allison University campus, brought together a whole community of historically hard working folk, a testament and bore witness to those who have a direct connection to Sackville and to the historical legacy of the Enterprise Faucett Foundry, dating back to the early 1800s.

My late grandfather Roy Winslow Milner was born and raised in a big egalitarian farming family, just outside of Sackville (Westcock). As an adult and he worked hard his whole life at this foundry, as a molder, to provide for his family. To this day I have a number of cast iron frying pans, and decorative items he made while there, and I treasure them.

Sadly my grand dad developed silicosis or what was commonly known as black lung and then lung cancer eventually took his life. It's not much wonder, as there was no filtering or exhaust system in the work place.  My grand father was much more than an iron worker as many all the other workers were as well.
Grandad had a thirst for learning, with two sisters who were teachers, and he was a multi-talented musician, who had a love of the land, growing his own food and a great respect for all animals.

The photograph below was taken by Evan Rensch as part of his poignant exhibition. It is a portrait of my talented and gifted cousin Gary Milner, who also worked at Enterprise Faucett Foundry.

I'm happy Evan Rensch took these photographs that document an era that has come to an end. My happiness is tinged with my feelings of sadness for the workers and their families left without an income after the devastating fire destroying the Enterprise Faucett Foundry in 2012. Etched in the faces of each worker, you can see the personalities and the years of hard work reflected in their eyes, and on their faces.

Evan Rensch has told a powerful story that's imparted a deep appreciation and love of community, within a context of history, and in the tradition of photographers that have come before him, honouring the soul and body, and reclaiming the beauty in the world of the individual, through the lens of the view camera.

Gary Milner