Iqaluit art student wins $ 7,500 in national competition


Erin Faulks is a student at Nunavut Arctic College who draws inspiration from nature for her hand-made works of art. (Photo courtesy of Erin Faulks)

An artist from Iqaluit won the regional award for Nunavut at the 19th BMO 1st Art! competetion.

Erin Faulks, a student in the jewelry and ironwork program at Nunavut Arctic College, received a prize of $ 7,500 for her handmade metal incense burner, the Pandemicock.

“It was super exciting to win,” said Faulks. “It was a great validation for all the work they put into the program at school. “

Originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Faulks has lived in Iqaluit for 14 years and is self-taught in crafts and jewelry making. She decided to enroll in college to deepen her knowledge of ironwork.

“I am inspired by nature. I try to use as many natural and reclaimed materials as possible in my artwork, ”she said. “Beauty is all around you, just take it and turn it the right way. “

Nature is one of the direct inspirations of the pandemic, explained Faulks. As the name suggests, it is inspired by a peacock, although this is a bit unusual.

“Normally you don’t see peacocks in flight. This is not normally how they are represented, ”said Faulks, who, while working on him, came to view the Pandemicock as representing adaptability and persistence in the pandemic.

“He’s going through it, like all of us, changing what he normally does depending on what’s going on in society,” she said. “He’s not able to inspire and be creative and social like he’s supposed to be, so he’s tucked his cock in and packed his things and is off to a brighter future.”

The finished product is made of sterling silver, copper, brass, ten gold and enamel, and measures 14 inches in length. It’s fully functional as an incense burner, although the work is currently on display behind a display case at the college, Faulks said.

Erin Faulks used several types of metal and different techniques to create the Pandemicock, which is a functional incense burner. (Photo courtesy of BMO / Touchwood PR)

Originally designed as a project for Faulks’ riveting course, the Pandemicock was only meant to be made with three pieces of metal and measure a few square inches.

However, since the classes were conducted remotely, Faulks said there was no instructor around her to tell her to stop adding to the work.

“I like to go extravagant or overdone, a little bordering on ridiculous,” she said. “COVID really allowed me to do this because I wasn’t so restricted in the project settings, so I kept adding more. “

Faulks said she tried to use as many techniques and types of metals as possible, but as few machines as possible. She consulted books, videos, and instructors from across Canada to learn new approaches, including using an enamel furnace instead of a smaller flame to accommodate the size of the artwork.

“There was a whole new technique that I had to research… to evenly heat the metal so that it had uniform malleability,” she said. She then cut and hammered the shaped pieces and punched rivets by hand before printing a decorative pattern on the surface of each piece.

Despite the many skills she displayed in creating functional artwork, Faulks admitted that she was initially reluctant to enter the competition.

“I see myself as a craftsman, not so much as an artist. It seems too demanding in terms of maintenance, ”she said with a laugh. His instructor, however, insisted that his creation be showcased.

“Everyone loves the Pandemicock,” she said. “After his birth, he chose to be enrolled.”

The BMO 1st Art! The competition celebrates outstanding visual arts achievements among undergraduates from across Canada. This year, a record 336 entries were submitted to the competition, and among them, 12 regional winners and one national winner were selected by a jury of jurors.

Images of all winning artwork can be viewed on the BMO Financial Group website at


Kayleen C. Rice

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