Chris Gavin first came to the United States as an exchange student from Scotland in 1984. While studying sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Chris began working in metal, embracing it as his medium of creative expression.
Graduating in 1988 with a Masters Degree in sculpture, his continued investigations led to blacksmithing, where Gavin was awakened to a whole new and exciting realm of metalwork. This ancient craft offered the tools and working knowledge to expand the scope and depth of his work, infusing ideas and concepts with traditional flavor and technique.
Chris continued his education by attending blacksmithing conferences and local demonstrations, reading books on the subject and talking with other smiths. Furthermore, he designed challenging technical problems into each new piece to hone and refine his skills.
Always striving for the highest potential in every work he creates, Chris now sets a standard that undeniably reflects his passion and mastery of this craft.
Mandala Creations in Metal was founded in 1995, after Gavin spent a sabbatical year traveling around the world. Particularly inspired by the cultures of Nepal and Tibet, it is here that Chris was first introduced to the concept of a 'Mandala'.
A Sanskrit word meaning 'wholeness' or 'circle of eternity', a mandala is a visual symbol used for contemplation and reflection, signifying protection and healing. Succinctly put, it is 'an integrated structure, organized around a unifying center' - Langchen-pa.
The source and inspiration for mandalas can be found in science, religion, nature and art and the visual expression of these creations has spanned centuries and bridged continents.
Influenced by the artistry of the Himalayan regions and the literal interpretation of the word, Mandala came to signify the focus and creative spirit necessary to make lasting visual statements.
At the heart of all Gavin's work is the forging process, whereby metal is heated in a forge to a glowing yellow/white temperature and then beaten with a hammer over an anvil. This labor-intensive process imprints unique texture and individuality to every aspect of the work. The craftsman's skill imbues fine detail, beauty of line and overall composition. In addition, Chris works closely with other skilled artisans to create mixed media pieces, introducing the rich textures of wood, stone and glass.
The bulk of the work is forged out of mild steel, though accents of naval brass, silicon bronze, copper and aluminum are becoming increasingly prevalent.
Methods of traditional joinery such as tenoning, piercing, riveting, banding and bolting, not only make for very strong constructs with clean transitional junctions, but add visual interest. Gavin even forges his own bolts and decorates the heads, putting that personal touch to the smallest of elements.
As an experienced designer, Chris assures that these details work together, making use of harmony and rhythm to create an integrated whole – a 'Mandala Creation.' His works can be found in schools, businesses and private collections.
Here is a more detailed list of Chris Gavin's commissions and awards.