Tree Studios Artist Blacksmith
Roberts Creek, BC
Member Since: 2011
Kelly Backs has been working with metal since he was 17 years old. For 17 years he worked as a journeyman blacksmith under various masters, such as well-known metal artists Geoff Barnes in Adelaide, Australia, Olivier Maranda in Montreal and Mike Macca in Vancouver. By opening Tree Studios in Roberts Creek in 2010, Kelly realized his dream of becoming the independent master of his own smithy.
Process...Patience...And Vision Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night. Sleep becomes impossible until pen has connected to paper to the satisfaction of the vision in my head. An idea won’t leave me alone until it reveals itself, in at least two dimensions. Losing the idea is not my fear. That fear belongs to the idea itself, struggling to live, fighting its way into the physical world. Some of these creations are content with their flat rendition, and are not strong enough to go beyond the page. Others will nag and prod, or turn my path to become manifest. Metal was not my first medium, and may not be my last, but it is something that inexplicably lures me and brings my visions to life. When I was in kindergarten, they divided the class into different craft areas. The crayon table, the Lego blocks, blunt scissors and colored paper, and the plasterscene. No one had an assigned place, except me. When the teacher saw the focus of my attention with the clay, she allowed me to stay there the whole day, every day. I haven’t been without a chunk of plasterscene since. Putting heat to metal, then smashing it, I substitute tools for my digits to reproduce the forms that my 6-year-old fingers did a lifetime ago. Time has tempered my need for the nearly instant results I achieved then, and given me the skills to bring my visions to life. Now, like then, a lot of the joy is in the doing, the actions involved in fashioning something lifeless into something that speaks to me about myself. The sweat and force involved in shaping metal teaches me my limits, but at the same time, urges me to go beyond them and reach for new heights. The might and subtleties of the hammer demand my total attentiveness for us to work as one, and rewards me for my efforts. The magic of the fire draws me to it. Taming it as a tool is the challenge.