Im doing my annual exhibition with my old school friend and painter Rob Marrison. We’re in the Garage Gallery, Aldeburgh and it’s going well. It’s a much better space, being on the ground floor between the high street and the beach, which means plenty of visitors. It’s always nice to come down to Suffolk, chat to people about my work and hopefully create some new customers.
We’ve just finished our second weekend sculpture workshop and it was great fun. We had a varied bunch of students, each one keen to have a go with our welders, plasma cutters and various tools so that they could create their own piece of sculpture. They ranged from Helens huge abstract garden sculpture (we’re still waiting to hear what her husband thought of it), Johns cosmos inspired abstract piece, Myras beaten aluminium tree, Davids junk metal water buffalo head through to Harrys many junk animals. Next course dates are 3rd & 4th June.
It’s that time of year again and i’ve just handed over all the trophies ready to be presented to the winners in the Royal Albert Hall, London. I’ve made them since the awards first started, eighteen years ago and each one is specific to whoever has won it. It’s probably one of the most fiddly jobs i do, making tiny instruments from welded steel and subsequently burning and cutting my hands in the process but i do enjoy making them. Obviously i know who all the winners are and congratulations to them all, but i’m sworn to secrecy, so lets just say someone who plays a guitar has probably won one ?
I recently ran our first Metal Sculpture Workshop with fellow sculptor and good friend David Mayne. Simon Mahoney was our first guinea pig, i mean client and we had a great time. We’d both run courses in the past but never a combined one so with us now both being in the same building it made sense to combine our knowledge and experience and run metal sculpture courses. Simon came with an idea of what he (or was it his wife ?) wanted to make and we took him through the various stages of making a piece of art from sketching to finished sheeps head wall light. The tea and biscuits flowed throughout the weekend and we provided a proper lunch. The next dates are 8th/9th April so if you fancy having a go yourself on this or our future dates drop me an email.
I’ve had a High School work experience student working with me this week. Millie spent 4 days working alongside me in the workshop doing various tasks like painting plinths, staining and waxing bases and prepping pieces of sculpture for me. I showed her how to weld and she made an excellent mouse from some pieces of scrap metal. She was also plasma cutting, drilling and filing. We worked in a school in Halifax for one day too making sculpture from junk with 31 kids.
I’ve now moved workshops to Sculpture Lounge Studios, Holmbridge Mills, Holmfirth. After the uncertainty of the last year it’s nice to have a secure workshop (in more ways than one). I did take the bendy shelves from washpit and made them into a welding screen / comfort blanket. As well as being part of a group of studios which means seeing actual people during the day, i’ve got the luxury of hot & cold water and a toilet ! I don’t think i’ve ever drunk as many cups of tea a day as i do now and i’m told things aren’t fully up and running yet. I’ve found myself being tidier too and i’ve even made display cases to show my work to visitors.
Well, after almost 20 years of having my workshop at Washpit Mill, i’ve had to move. The mill went into receivership a year ago and has now been bought for re-development, so what was once my workshop will no doubt soon be someones house. It was great being there for so long, it allowed me to firmly establish my creative roots in the valley whilst occasionally share the space with many other guest artists such as Dave Young, David Mayne, Martin Smith, Jim Bond, Brendan Hesmondhalgh, Doctor Simpo, Wayne Markwort and Pat Walls. In fact i’ve had such an enjoyable time there that i made a photo book all about it, email me if you’d like to buy a copy.
I’ve just got back from doing the fifth Staithes Arts Festival and it was really busy, the glorious weather really brought the visitors in. At times you couldn’t move in Sandra and Stuarts garden for people looking at the sculpture and of course the amazing plants. I sold mainly birds this time and it was great to see old customers returning and make some new customers.
This is the culmination of a recent project based on the four elements. I worked with the whole school doing sketches and then making small scale sculptures which formed the ideas for this permanent piece in the school grounds. I took some of the kids drawings as a starting point and made them up from shaped steel bar into larger wall pieces. Here you can see the ‘father & son’ installation team in action.
Recently i had Shea Kerry working with me doing his placement with Greenhead College. After a quick introduction to the workshop we got straight on with making the remaining pieces for a commission i’ve been asked to do. It was quite relentless work bending all the bar to the right shapes for the 48 individual wall pieces but Shea was great to work with and never moaned once. After 3 1/2 days solid work we’d finished the last one and Shea did some of his own work, making various pieces of sculpture for different members of his family. Shea was a really valuable person to have around for the week and made my job much easier.
Art in the woods is here again. In the past i’ve sited a ready-made piece, collaborated with another artist, and worked on my own in response to the landscape, this time i worked with a group of schoolchildren to make the work. I did a two day sculpture workshop at Hepworth Junior School and we decided to make birds out of wire and plastic which were sited along a stretch of footpath for visitors to try and spot.
I’ve just come back from a month away working in New Zealand. Much as i love metal sculpture, it was great to do some different work. I helped Chris Booth, the international New Zealand artist, source and assemble a new piece for his upcoming exhibition in Wellington in and amongst doing some collagraph printing and making a couple of pieces for a sculpture trail from plastic plant pots at Art at Wharepuke in Kerikeri.
Mick can you make a big robot ? Yes, how big ? 4.4m, oh and i need it in six days ! That was the conversation that sparked my latest project. Its an eye catching entrance feature for Vermilion gallery in Knutsford. Working quickly on that scale was certainly a steep learning curve but i managed it, just.
I recently took part in the fourth Staithes Arts Festival and it was a pleasure as always to be part of it. Hundreds of people came round to look at my sculptures in Sandra and Stuarts garden and my metal birds were certainly the most popular item this time. Thank you to you if you came for a look and a chat despite the mixed weather and thank you again to Roraima House Bed and Breakfast.