If you are walking by Argyle Secondary you might see a metal owl perched on the roof of a nearby home. At the same time, you might hear the screech of a metal grinder or the roar of an acetylene torch but maybe not because those could be drowned out by the sounds of rock music pumping out of Mark Mentiply’s metalwork studio.
From fishing to movies to art
Swimming throughout the North Shore are a number of art installations featuring the work of Lynn Valley’s Mark Mentiply – check one out in the park at the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art. He has become quite well known for his metal salmon swimming through stone creek beds. It’s a concept honouring one of Mentiply’s passions and history.
“I started my work life as a commercial fisherman,” he said. “What a way to see the world, I thought.”
While his respect for salmon continues, it wasn’t long before Mentiply was looking for other options.
“The movie industry was starting to explode and I wanted to get into special effects,” he said.
He started spending time in some special effects workshops.
“The guys suggested I get my welding ticket,” said Mentiply. “I liked the idea. I went back to school and would come to the shop they would let me pactise on the scraps.”
Stepping away from his work table, Mentiply found a rough tea light holder on a cluttered countertop. It was one of the first pieces of art he ever created.
“The art came from practising my welding skills. It helped me hone my skills to get my welding ticket. I started making these really cool things – that impressed the guys.“
He demonstrates the candleholder showing how it is designed to cast shadows in the flickering light – an impactful concept. Mentiply fell in love with using heat to shape metal into art.
His style and skill have grown in the following decades. Mentiply has spent his time working in the local film and TV industry and when between projects creating art. His enthusiasm for his art is emphasized by bursts of joyous laughter talking about his various projects.
Today in addition to the refined salmon and orcas he creates, Mentiply loves taking found objects to inspire playful sculptures of fantastical creatures.
“Look at this!” said Mentiply, holding up a shovel blade. “This would be perfect for a fish or the body of an owl – or a mask!”
Dumping out a pile of rusted metal pieces he begins to hold them up and shares what their next phase of life will look like. Saved from damp sheds and dark basements, the old tools are destined to make others smile.
“This is such great stuff – I love cleaning out a senior’s old workshop. I love helping. They need to do a dump run and I can do that – and save a bunch of the old stuff.”
It has been a rough couple of years in the film industry with covid shutdowns and Hollywood strikes. Mentiply has been leaning into his art to help bridge the financial gap. His works can be found at End of the Line and Highwater Tackle, on his website (he is planning an update soon) or can be seen on his Facebook page – home to his most recent works.
“I have been using the time to create something on my own but also have a bit of a giggle,” said Mentiply. He is particularly inspired by vintage golf clubs and their future as fanciful birds.
Walking around his shop and yard it is easy to see the imagination and fun that sparks the creation of Mentiplys art.
“I have everything I have ever wanted in this life in Lynn Valley – my wife, my son, my shop. I have made careful choices and welding has made it possible – it’s given me a chance to make art.”
Mentiply and his art are one of our top picks for the holiday season – give someone you love the gift of art or a smile.