Author Archives: mick

Metal sculpture course no. 46

We’ve just finished our 46th course and this time we had two absolute beginners and two repeat customers. In my room were Paul who was bought a place on the course by his wife Sharon for a Christmas present and Chris who I poached from another course at Sculpture Lounge. Neither of them had welded before and thought they’d maybe make something small if they were lucky but Paul made a rotating skull, a lantern and a ladybird and just look how pleased Chris looks with his dragonfly and bird made from junk metal. In Billy’s room were Steve and Steve who’ve been on our courses before so they soon got to grips with making loads of sculpture, so quickly in fact that they could afford to knock off early too. Steve made a  guitar to go in his garden and an allium whilst the other Steve made a weathervane and a spinning garden ornament. I run the courses with my good friend and fellow sculptor David Mayne, we only have four people on a course so you get our undivided attention and room to create whatever you feel capable of making. Our students always surprise themselves with what they’re able to produce over the weekend and then take away with them on the Sunday evening so if you fancy having a go yourself just get in touch and we’ll see you soon !

Animal Crackers

                 

My solo exhibition at Utopia the unexpected Gallery is finally up and running in Holt, Norfolk. I was asked if I’d like to exhibit at the gallery when the owner saw some of my work at the house of some good customers of mine. Mainly concentrating on birds (admittedly strange ones) but also covering dogs, cats, sheep, frogs and even a monkey I managed to fit everything in my van and squeeze it all into the gallery. One piece sold after I’d only been there 20 minutes, to a couple who just came in to ask where they could buy a lightbulb. It’s going well so far, it seems there is a market for quirky northern cartoon animals down in Norfolk after all.

Metal sculpture course no. 45

Over the weekend Professor Billy and I ran another sculpture course and I know we always seem to say this but four complete novices surprised themselves with what they were capable of making. Rosie wanted to make some insects and did mention making some sort of arch if possible and managed to incorporate both into a unique piece of sculpture for her garden made entirely by herself. Bill was bought a place on the course by his wife Doreen and being an ex-engineer wasn’t too phased by the tools and environment so he went on to make a big dragonfly for their garden. Andrew came up from Dorset with his wife Michelle to do the course. He made a fish, an insect from junk metal and then went on to do a figure juggling fish based on a prog rock album cover only he seemed to have seen. Michelle made our first mobile on the courses from brass and steel as well as a small crocodile made from a nutcracker and bits of an old fire extinguisher. Despite the weather being a bit nippy all four had a good time and were pleased with what they’d achieved. I you fancy having a go yourself we’ve got availability on our July, August and September courses. We have four people on a course so you’re guaranteed lots of our expert guidance and will definitely take home something you’ve made yourself at the end of the weekend.

 

Bull

I recently had to make a massive bull for some good customers who wanted it for their garden. The initial idea was for a solid looking bull about 1.2m high but the more I worked on it the more gestural and larger it became. Eventually I ended up just using 10mm round bar which I almost ‘drew’ with in the air if you know what I mean and the bull ended up being more like 2.5m tall. Luckily they were really pleased with it and it actually fitted in my van too – just !

Metal sculpture course no.44

We’re back with our 2024 courses now and here’s our first one featuring three brand new students and one veteran. First up Robert has definitely done three of our courses but he claims four so we won’t argue with him. Normally he raids my box of huge cogs and makes something ridiculously heavy but this time he went quite subtle and made an angler fish based around a rock he really liked and using various bits from a bedstead and of course, a few cogs. Louise normally works in fashion but wanted to try metal sculpture and it was obvious she had a creative side to her. Using found objects, panel beating and plasma cutting she created an angelic bird figure which demands your attention. First up in my room was James who came with the idea of wanting to make a smallish robot and went home with a much bigger one. What was nice was that he used up lots of scrap pieces that I’d had in my workshop for years and thought would never get used up. With his new found ability to weld he went on to make another robot which was probably the one he thought about making in the first place. Finally, Darren wanted to make some sort of stags head to go on his shed wall. I don’t think he used one new piece of steel, preferring instead to go with the shapes of the junk metal in my workshop, shelf brackets became the antlers and fire extinguishers the head. It actually turned out bigger than he originally intended and was so impressive it’s on display inside his house rather than on his shed now. Thanks as ever to Billy (David Mayne) my good friend and fellow professor on these courses. If you fancy having a go yourself just drop me an email. You don’t need to have any previous experience and will take away a piece of sculpture made by yourself at the end of the course.

Liz’s new gate

Here’s a recent commission I did. Liz lives in Salem Manse and asked me to make a new gate for her being as how her old wooden one was falling apart. I know her son Marc, so between us we came up with the design based on some initial sketches of mine. The original letters I bought for the job were too small so I ended up buying another random bunch of letters the same size and making a head out of them when I ordered some more letters that were the right size if you get what I mean. Anyway, Liz loves her new gate and the delivery people can always find which is her house now.

Metal sculpture course no.43

Well that’s it for our 2023 courses and what a way to go out. Four happy students took home their own pieces they’d didn’t think they were capable of making themselves. First up was Debbie who had a delayed start due to flooded roads but soon caught up making a huge flower for her garden and various other flower shaped pieces from old cogs and some garden tools she’d got from eBay. Dawn had never welded before but just fancied the idea of having a go and made various flower themed test pieces before going on to make the piece she had in mind – a highland cows head made from old tools and chain. Graham works with coffee machines and brought various components along with him from work so he could make a badger, as you do and a fine piece of sculpture it was. Christina came along for the third time, fully inspired after a recent visit to galleries in Tuscany and wanted to make a huge head from plates of steel and copper, she clearly likes a challenge ! I lent her a face mould I had and by the end of the weekend she had a huge head which was almost as big as she was. Thanks as ever to my good friend and fellow course leader Billy (David Mayne), we’re going to sit down very soon with a cup of the finest tea known to man and the leftover biscuits from the course so we can decide on next years dates. If you want to get them in advance just drop me an email and we’ll see you next year.

Janet’s chair

Here’s my new addition to the Holmfirth arts and seating scene. Sited down at Sands recreation  ground, it was commissioned as a memorial by Mike for his wife. We came up with the idea of a big chair rather than a seat or bench because she was ‘chair’ of Holmfirth Transition Town. The images depicted in the chair represent Janet’s various interests from tree planting, horticulture to wind turbines, there’s also a QR code on a plaque to give you even more information about the amazing work Janet did.

Metal sculpture course no. 42

Another four happy students taking home sculptures they’d made over the weekend. Jerry and Annette came up from London, Ole walked to the workshop and Helen came up from the Midlands for a second time. Jerry had never welded before and used offcuts of plate steel inside formers such as an old collander to make a bowl and a face, which did turn out a little bit scary looking but then it is nearly halloween. Annette who was once a graphic artist came up with some free flowing designs based on eyes and flowers using junk steel which will go on a wall at home. Ole lives nearby and with a house full of sheep came up with the obvious choice of, yes, a sheep but this one was for outside. Ole’s old car body shop skills came back to him for making the sheep from cylinders, fire extinguishers and sheet steel, complete with spring like legs so it can wiggle in the wind. Helen came on our course about 2 1/2 years ago and returned to refresh her welding skills and make another huge flower for her garden (a rudbeckia this time) and finish off some cutlery inspired light fittings she started last time. Thanks as always to my fellow professor and good friend Billy (David Mayne) for running the courses with me and we’ve got one more course left for this year then we’ll sort out next years dates. If you want to get those dates before they go on general release just drop me an email.

Big Blue Becca

I just installed this commissioned piece this week and it was a pleasure to make because it challenged my normal working practice. Globe Arts in Slaithwaite wanted a new sculpture to showcase their Summer Show and the work they do there in particular. They wanted the sculpture to be as big as possible but also had a really short deadline for it. Becca is one of their life models and is part of the team at Globe Arts so naturally was the choice of subject for the piece. I based the piece on a series of life drawings from Globe Arts, trying to make a large figurative sculpture that resembled the drawings. It was a challenge trying to bend the steel bar to resemble the marks on the drawings and then take them into the third dimension as it were but one I learnt to enjoy and one that has informed and stretched what I’m capable of making in the future. Thanks again to Globe Arts for the challenge !

Metal sculpture course no. 41

Boom and that was our 41st metal sculpture workshop just gone and four great students again. First up in my room was Tracy who by her own admission had only welded about 10 cms before and that was with a stick welder. She got to grips with MIG welding pretty quickly and made an elaborate dragonfly using junk metal and plasma cutting. Next up, Joe was like a kid in a sweet shop when he started using the junk metal we had in stock and quickly made the worlds heaviest coffee table form some cogs before moving on to a model of a neutron explosion, a cobra desk lamp and then a junk wall piece he said was two perched robins ? Across in Billy’s room was Steve who is on his 4th visit to us now so was very confident and spent the weekend making various garden sculptures and handing out his unique advice to anyone who’d listen. Steve’s friend Stephen came along for the first time as an utter novice and made a cycling themed weathervane. All good tiring fun and as usual our students surprised themselves with what they were capable of making (or how much in Joe’s case). Thanks as ever to my good friend and fellow professor David Mayne for running the course with me. If you want to know next years dates before they go on general release just drop me an email.

 

Todmorden Library junk workshop

I did two junk modelling workshops over the weekend at Todmorden Library which were supposed to be on a space theme really to tie in with some moon rocks and asteroids they had on view but the kids seemed to have other ideas. Using all sorts of waste materials I’d collected we built various animals, robots, boats, fairies and of course rockets and then coated them in electrical tape to colour them. It was a really good couple of sessions with the kids being justifiably proud of their achievements.

 

Metal sculpture course no. 40

We’ve done 40 sculpture courses together now which seems a bonkers amount considering we didn’t really know what we were doing or how they’d pan out when we started running them. This time we had four complete novices, two of whom were bought places as presents, one who ended up on it by default because his father in law couldn’t make it and one who actually chose to come on the course. First up in my room was Adrian who after stating he’d never be able to actually weld, started chuckling to himself when he realised he could actually weld. He started by making a dog, (at least that’s what he said it was) then went on to use some old clothes rail accessories and make an octopus. Liz said she’d be happy if she just made a flower, which she did quite easily then made a lovely owl sculpture. Lisa wanted to make a fish mobile, inspired by a trip to Canada so set about plasma cutting loads of little fish out of a piece of aluminium. Finally Tom made a comical looking sheep from coiled round bar and an old fire extinguisher to put in his garden and amuse his two year old daughter. All four students surprised themselves with what they were capable of making and went home with their own unique, handmade  pieces of metal sculpture. All this years course places are taken but email me if you want to go on our waiting list and get next year’s dates first.

HERD

HERD – i can talk about this now it’s happened. All the sheep we made recently were part of a Kirklees Year of Music project where the music and sounds of Kirklees were recorded, mixed into different soundscapes and then played out through speakers inside the sheep at various locations throughout Kirklees. As part of the install and de-rig crew we carried them to remote locations, public spaces, fixed them onto various forms of transport then brought them all back into St Georges Square for a finale concert. It was a gloriously bonkers project to be involved with and went down really well with the general public who, even though they were a bit bemused by the music couldn’t help being impressed by the scale and majesty of the sheep. Well done Dave & Jane for leading the project and Artichoke for co-ordinating the whole event.

Holmfirth artweek 2023

We’ve just tidied up after the end of this years exhibition and it’s been a really good one. At the main exhibition in the Civic Hall we had lots of visitors all week, they weren’t necessarily buying the higher priced pieces as usual but certainly bought a lot more of the smaller items. I finally sold my abstract horse head which was great and means it can finally sit in someones garden and i don’t have to keep taking it to different exhibitions. We had Open Studios at Sculpture Lounge after our first preview evening in a few years. It was the only chance the public gets every year to look round most of the studios in the mill and proved very popular. Now all i need to do is turn my workshop back into a workshop rather than a pseudo gallery.