Brian Burke (Heritage Works)

Bell Island artist, Brian Burke is a man who believes that necessity really is the mother of invention. When he needed a carving done and couldn’t afford to pay to get it done, he tried his hand at carving, and he was hooked. He has always seen waste and pollution as a condition of a spoiled society and would like to do all that he can to fix that. In the process he hopes to educate people on what they can do better. Through his artistic endeavours, Burke is taking post-consumer waste products like plastic, wood, cardboard, glass, and steel and turning them all into beautiful artworks. In his depiction of two drillers working in the former iron ore mines of his home of Bell Island, NL, Brian took over 1000 old plastic shopping bags, some pieces of 100 year old mine timber and created something wonderful with 40 kids from the Wabana Boys & Girls Club. He had the kids help him cut the bags and position the appropriate pieces in the appropriate positions and ended up with a fantastic mural that they gave away to the Newfoundland Club in Cambridge, Ontario in appreciation for helping numerous Bell Island groups since the mines closed in 1966.

He took some old wood pallets and wood from old church pews and turned it into a beautiful tribute for the new Anglican church on Bell Island. When others saw garbage in old windows from numerous reno jobs, he saw a wonderful commemorative sculpted mural to the 1942 German U-Boat attacks on four ore carriers at Bell Island. Usually where others see problems, he sees opportunities and solutions. Art is a large part of his answers. He is working to repurpose these waste materials into practical items as well. His glass is definitely at least half full.


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