The single most important thing I wish to accomplish – is to encourage artists and craftspeople to preserve their craft by making videos spelling out the intricacies of their talent.
Jim Lorriman: One of our 2015 Local Heroes
A Life in the Arts
Don’t call Mulmur’s Jim Lorriman an artist.
He’d rather you call him a craftsman. “Art is in essence conceptual in nature,” he says. “Craft is functionality. I don’t like it when people confuse the two.”
Ironic then that the wooden bowls, chargers and vases made by this master wood turner are certainly works of art, functional though they may be. Ironic, too, that a man who has given so much to building the Headwaters arts community denies his status as an artist.
Jim’s first contribution to the local arts scene was to help organize The Hills of Mulmur studio tour, which over time morphed into The Hills of Mulmur and Mono Studio Tour, and then became The Headwaters Studio Tour. As the region covered by the tour expanded, the focus shifted south and away from artists in Mulmur. To counteract this, Jim jumped in to help start The North of 89 Studio Tour.
Jim also cofounded the Headwaters Arts Festival. The region-wide, multidisciplinary festival remains a local fixture nearly 20 years later. As an extension to the Arts Festival, he also cofounded the Made of Wood Show. Now in its 15th year, it has grown from casual affair into serious event, with a paid jury and awards for the top pieces.
And Jim’s community work doesn’t stop there. He believes art should be commercially viable, so he sat on the board of both the Headwaters Tourism Association and the Georgian Triangle Economic Development Corporation. He helped organize the Hidden Treasures Art Tour and the Alton For Arts’ Sake initiative. He developed the first tourism map for the area, and with artist Arnold De Graaff published a regional arts and culture guide for several years.
On top of all that, there are few who can match his record when it comes to donating work to charity fundraisers. Theatre Orangeville, for example, has received Jim’s pieces for its annual auction nine times. (His work for Dufferin Child and Family Services was featured in the spring issue of this magazine.)
It’s a wonder Jim gets any time in his shop. Somehow, though, he manages to turn out more than a hundred pieces a year, sold through a dozen galleries across the country, and some of which sell for sums into the thousands.
Jim’s turning technique means his pieces can be made from scraps of wood that have some historical or other significance. Currently he has material from the stall of famed racehorse Northern Dancer.
When it comes to priorities for the arts community, Jim says, “We’re at the sunset of a golden age of arts and crafts. The boomers are retiring and over the next few years we will lose a huge amount of skill.”
That’s why his current mission – “the single most important thing I wish to accomplish” – is to encourage artists and craftspeople to preserve their craft by making videos spelling out the intricacies of their talent. Jim’s own videos are free for the taking from his website (jimlorrimanwoodturner.com), though he stresses the point is not simply to copy. “I want people to go beyond what I’ve done to create something new.”
Compared to building a whole local arts community, creating something new is a tall challenge indeed.