During the Open House Celebration held on June 11, for Canerector’s 75th anniversary, we offered tours of the artwork adorning the walls of our corporate office building.

We consider ourselves very fortunate to be able to work in an environment surrounded by inspiring art from talented artist Jarmila Kavena, and were honoured to share the experience with our visitors.

About the artist Jarmila Kavena

Jarmila and Milan Kavena

Born in Czechoslovakia, Jarmila decided to immigrate to Canada in the 1980s with her husband Milan Kavena. In Canada, she continued her studies of art at the university level. She was very fortunate to study under well-known Canadian artists such as Françoise Sullivan, Tom Hopkins and David Moore who inspired her to explore the abstract qualities of her creative visual artwork.

After obtaining a Master degree of Fine Arts, Studio Arts and Print Media from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Jarmila had several solo exhibitions in different installations, usually involving paintings, prints, sculptures and theatrical lighting.

The foundry, Milan’s passion and work, became a great source of inspiration for her on the theme of transformation – the physical metal transformation being a metaphor for all transformations happening around us and within ourselves. Jarmila had many opportunities to visit Milan’s workplace where he was the president of Mitchell Aerospace, a foundry in Montreal that manufactures parts for the aerospace industry. Jarmila says, “The fact that stacks of metal ingots end up as a part of a flying machine is almost magical!” At Mitchell Aerospace, Jarmila explored metallurgy techniques and materials available, letting her imagination and talent guide her to create unique artwork. For Jarmila, the material transformation by use of heat, fire and other processes are akin to the work of alchemists, and resonate through human history.

About Jarmila’s Art Collections Featured in Canerector’s Office

Jarmila realized that in principle the foundry theme could also represent all manufacturing companies within Canerector. All have complex procedures, processes, specific and vigorous controls, as well as creative and smart individuals who are proud of their technical achievement and also find and appreciate beauty in their own manufacturing processes, as Jarmila has in the foundry. Her artwork can be understood on two levels: first the manufacturing processes, transformation and its complexities in all companies, and, second, the personal growth of individuals working in those companies.

This oil painting depicts Mitchell Aerospace’s wheelbarrow bike used to move material in the shop.

The First Collection

The first collection called “The Foundry series” created from 2000 to 2015 includes the great majority of the artwork in Canerector’s corporate office, over 160 artworks. It is composed of many smaller series, each representing a different aspect of Jarmila’s artistic quest for understanding the larger concept behind transformation and growth. Jarmila often portrays actual parts of the production, testing tools, sand moulds for casting, patterns, products, etc., working with different media. Sometimes Jarmila does collages of painting, metal, wax or other media to create her art.

This oil painting is an image of the manufacturing environment and foundry equipment.

Jarmila used hot metal to make many of the pieces. Freehand poured liquid metal (meaning not controlled by a mould) is a technique that can solidify metal in a variety of shapes. The result depends on the temperature of the metal, the speed of the pouring, the type of metal that is poured and many other factors. An artist has to understand these principles to be able to work with the hot metal and its limitations.

Oil painting of the foundry as a workplace.

The work is intentional, yet, the artist must accept and account for the circumstances and the material itself having an impact on the end results. This is an important element of alchemy, a concept Jarmila has always found fascinating and inspiring. Hot wax, another medium Jarmila has worked with, behaves a lot like molten metal. To work with wax, one has to know its timing, limits, and possibilities. It can be layered over painted background to “veil” it or reveal it. The artist can scrape into it and other elements may be imbedded.

Jarmila Kavena has used the freehand poured liquid metal technique to create her artwork such as the one pictured, five spear shape aluminum relief sculptures consisting of four pieces each making a total of 20 parts grouped together to form this artwork.

The Second Collection

The second collection created in 2015 to 2017 is inspired by the Group of Seven and Jarmila’s love of nature and includes over 100 artworks. While The Foundry series’ focus is on transformation, the paintings and abstract artwork of the new series are meant to be calming, relaxing images the team can admire when taking a break. Jarmila installed all these artworks in individual offices and in the lunchroom.

Inspired by the Group of Seven, the paintings of landscapes in lunchrooms are meant to be calming, relaxing images the team can admire when taking a break.

The collection of landscape paintings and metal pieces located in the offices are mostly groupings pairing oil paintings of a nature scene with abstract metal works. Jarmila wanted to share her love of Canadian landscapes, but also offer people something to consider—the development and changes in art taste, a chance to compare the landscape in a classical form of oil painting with abstracted landscapes in metal. These abstract works hold the essence of the paintings next to it in a different form.

Life — A continuation Marked by Transformations

The spiral, symbol of universal powers, is presented with blueprint marks in this metal relief to stand for the necessary exact control over the material transformation by heat.

A true artist, Jarmila is now painting Prague’s landscapes. Following Milan’s retirement in 2018, the couple returned to their roots in their home country, and are currently in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. As art is as essential as breathing to her, Jarmila is still creating and continues to explore the same themes, including transformation. Coming back to her roots after going through many transformations within her country of adoption, Jarmila’s life is as a spiral – a symbol dear to her heart appearing throughout her art. As Jarmila mentions, the spiral stands for the principle of creating and organizing, the pace of life and spiritual and moral growth of man. It means the life order, development, continuity and journey into the unknown future.

The spiral symbol has even more significance in this two parts (plinth) aluminum partially engraved sculpture named “Double Spiral” as it is a combination of two spirals.

Jarmila was ecstatic when she heard of the success of the art tours during our Open House Celebration: “I am so glad it was of interest to the visitors and that it went well. Making people see the work of artists as relevant is important to me. So many artists work with love to share something … and, so often, people just hurry by. Art does reflect our lives, gives perspective to it. These visitors will perhaps notice art around them a bit more often.”


For this large piece of 48 metal reliefs (melted metal, casting and paint on metal), Jarmila has decided to start with a reduction gear-box of a jet engine that Mitchell Aerospace was working on at the time. The blueprints, the cornerstone of manufacturing, are here surrounded by material and human creativity flowing into its transformation into a final product.