Liam Crockard’s east-end Toronto studio is large, light-filled and populated with sculptures of wooden cast-offs that look a little, but not quite, like chairs. The form, arguably the most mundane furniture object, has been obsessing him for the past while. It started pragmatically, with a need to build studio furniture, but blossomed into something more: a look at jury-rigged objects that are often a “class-driven means of making do.”
For the resultant body of work, titled All Thumbs, Crockard has been working with material found nearby: discarded props from a theatre around the block, and scraps from classes at George Brown College, which is also just around the corner. These chair offshoots share studio space alongside the tentatively titled Closed Shop, a project that draws on the history of print production, and counter-cultural materials in particular.
Crockard was raised in Kitchener, Ontario, in a working-class community where improvised solutions and union posters loomed large, so both bodies of work have a slight biographical impetus. But the more general manner of working—finding a form or material or object and investigating it to the point of exhaustion—is not unprecedented for Crockard. “At least I’m not the ‘Broom Guy’ anymore,” he laughs, referencing a past body of work.
For Crockard, 2017 will kick off with a showing at the Material Art Fair in Mexico City. This comes on the heels of a busy 2016, which saw exhibitions at Cooper Cole, Warner Gallery and MKG127 in Toronto, in addition to his ongoing work, alongside Aleksander Hardashnakov, running the DIY artist showroom the Loon, which opened in 2015.
See some of Crockard’s work and process in this studio-visit video by Canadian Art’s video intern, Brittany Shepherd.