This is the 19th year i’ve done the trophies, it doesn’t seem five minutes since i was first asked to make them. I obviously know all the winners because i make each trophy specific to the winner, so for example say it’s a group who play bagpipes, didgeridoo, glockenspiel and a penny whistle, it’ll be either 4 figures stood with those instruments or maybe the instruments themselves strategically placed together. They’re a really nice commission to do every year – a test of just how fiddly i can push myself with a MIG welder ! I can’t give anything away until after the awards ceremony on April 4th hence the before and after photos above of the various bits cut out in preparation and the final stage of the engraved discs covering the fixing holes on the underneath of the bases.
I’ve just finished doing a bit of work for the Literature Festival which was a nice little insight into a world i honestly don’t know much about. It’s 50 years since the publication of ‘The Iron Man’ by Ted Hughes, so i brought the figure i made ten years ago with six different schools to the launch party along with the recent commission ‘Mr Dragon’. Then on saturday afternoon i led a childrens sculpture workshop in Huddersfield Library where we all made iron men from various bits of cardboard and plastic then used tape to finish them off – good fun as always.
It’s been a busy start to the year and i’ve just finished my second large commission. It’s a dragon, sat reading a book. ‘Is that something you could make Mick ?’ i was asked, ‘Yes of course’ i replied then thought, how the hell do i do this ! It turned out ok in the end though. Being a figure on a chair and mostly made from plate steel it reminded me of making ‘Don – man of mystery’ at college a bit. The client has yet to see the piece so fingers crossed he likes it !
My latest commission is a pair of trees for the Forget Me Not charity. They’re fund raising trees so that donors will get their name engraved onto special leaves which will then be attached to the trees. One is for the Huddersfield site and one for Bury. I’ve enjoyed turning what is essentially a hard material into something quite organic looking. My friend Sarah Branson has helped bend all those branches and twigs which end in 140 individually shaped washers – not that we’re counting.
We’ve just finished our latest weekend metal sculpture workshop. David Mayne and i worked with just two participants this time and with our undivided attention they’ve certainly raised the standard of work pretty high. Tom came along with the firm idea of making a bird bath in the shape of a giant flower and he certainly achieved it and Kevin simply wanted to make a gecko but also managed to make a mobile phone holder too. We worked with the pair of them through the whole process from idea to sketch to maquette through to finished piece in two days. Neither of them had done much welding before but both of them went home with a great piece of work each. If you want to take part in our next course it’s on January 20th / 21st.
We’ve just completed our fourth joint metal sculpture workshop and it’s been great fun as usual. Our four students all completed a piece of work each, in fact more than one for most of them. It’s really nice to show people how to use the equipment then guide them along the way if needs be, they always surprise themselves with what they’re capable of. We start with sketching out ideas and run through the whole process to them taking away their very own unique piece(s) of art. If you want to come along and have a go, our next course is Nov 25th & 26th.
Well, we were certainly lucky with the weather. Saturday was glorious apart from a 5 minute shower and it certainly brought the visitors out, i don’t think i’ve ever seen it so busy. Sunday was cloudy but still the visitors arrived in their hundreds and thankfully the rain held off until the last half an hour of the festival. My last minute decision to take two medium sized dogs definitely paid off as they both sold along with quite a few other pieces. My new octopuses / octopi – i still don’t know which is right, were on display for the first time and the metalheads got a lot of attention resulting in a few sales. At times you couldn’t move in Sandra and Stuarts garden for people which made it smell wonderful as everyone brushed against the lavender bushes. Nice to see you if you came along to say hello and thanks for buying my work if you did, it made it all worthwhile.
You can see six pieces of my work as part of the Harlow Carr sculpture trail from now until October. The RHS gardens provide such a lovely backdrop for the trail and make it really nice to just discover pieces of sculpture in and amongst all the gorgeous plants. What the visitors will make of my work i’ve no idea but it’s really nice to have been asked to exhibit there.
I’ve been doing some summer workshops in various Kirklees Libraries over the summer. Each session is two hours long so we’ve been making sculptures out of various plastic pieces and bubblewrap, held together with cable ties and electrical tape. Lots of electrical tape ! It’s a good job screwfix do a big multi-pack of the stuff. Anyway, it’s been really good fun as a Library is an odd place to run a sculpture workshop, so to be making lots of noise and mess seems quite rebellious. Having said that, the staff have been great, a little wary at first maybe but very quickly joining in with the kids and helping them make all sorts of strange animals and well, anything really. The last two are next week at Kirkburton and Shepley then it’ll be kind of sad for it to come to an end as i’ve really enjoyed running them.
We’re almost at the end of this years Holmfirth artweek, one more day to go and it’s been a great week. As a fringe venue, Sculpture Lounge hosted our own exhibition of 14 artists on the as yet undeveloped upper floor of the mill and its been very successful. We held a preview evening and had studio holder Doug’s ‘here be monsters’ brewery as the bar and studio holder ‘secret shed company’ Alan running his mobile pizza oven outside. So many people turned up that Alan ran out of pizzas and Doug sold almost four times as much beer as he thought he would. Sales have continued through the week as we’ve had open studios too, so people can come and have a good look round. Holmfirth artweek has also been the first showing of my larger metalheads and they seem to be well received, i even sold the one shown above.
I had Sonny Stuffins working with me recently as part of Greenhead College’s work experience programme. The week coincided with the setting up of our Sculpture Lounge fringe exhibition as part of Holmfirth Artweek so there was a lot of preparation including moving screens, plinths, artwork etc around and construction of the exhibition together with painting walls for a couple of days. After that we were workshop based and Sonny did his first bits of MIG welding and plasma cutting. He made a range of strange alien looking insects of his own as well as helping me with my work. The final day we spent de-constructing some of the old Sculpture Lounge studios. He’s been great to work with and proved to be a valuable member of the team.
David Mayne and i have just finished co-hosting our third weekend sculpture workshop and it was great fun as always. We had a smaller group of students this time but each one was just as keen to have a go with our welders, plasma cutters and various tools so that they could create their own piece of sculpture. Kerry made her own unique fire pit windshield come grill holder for her garden, Barry completed an elaborate flying owl weather vane which he’s going to fix on his chimney at home and David made a life size secretary bird – finishing it with 5 minutes to spare !
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.