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.
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 !
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.
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.
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 – 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.
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.
We recently ran our 39th metal sculpture weekend and this time it was all novice students. In my room were Phil and Kirsty and across the corridor in Billys room were mother and daughter Kate and Kim. Phil had ideas about using chain to make a tree / bird feeder but we suspect he really wanted to make a rabbit because he brought a half finished wooden one with him so by the end of the weekend he had a larger than life size rabbit he’d welded up all by himself. Kirsty wanted to make a heron to go by the pond in her garden so drew it out on the floor with chalk, found junk metal pieces to make up the right shape then set about welding them all together. Kate brought a lot of old motorbike parts with her that belonged to her late husband and used them to make a lovely obelisk type sculpture for her garden. Kim brought along an old bike she’d got so attached to on a holiday in Vietnam that she posted it back home in pieces, yes she really did. Having barely ridden it in this country she decided the time was right to chop it up and make an owl and a fish from it, as you do. Needless to say the course was great fun and all four students took home a piece of work they didn’t they’d be able to make in a weekend. Thanks as ever to David (Billy) Mayne for co-hosting the course with me, if you want to go on our waiting list for next years course dates just drop me an email.
I’ve been involved with a project i can’t say too much about at the moment apart from saying that a team of artists were assembled by a mate of mine Dave Young to produce 23 different looking and sized sheep for an upcoming music project. We worked in the old St Georges railway goods warehouse which was a brilliant place to be based despite the clamminess and the pigeons. Many of the artists had worked together before on previous community arts projects so it was great to hear all the different stories as we sat down for dinner each day. Paired up with my old sculpture lounge pal David Mayne (Billy), we pretty much spent all our time welding up the frames of various sized sheep all day (i also did a couple of days in my workshop making some junk metal legs and head for one of the sheep) but we did turn our hand to plywood flooring inside some of the larger sheep. All will be revealed in mid July.
That’s another one under our belt and look how proud Greg looks with his creation. Yes David Mayne and i have just run our 38th course and four happy students all completed a piece of work and took it home with them. So, back to Greg, who was bought a place on the course as a present and had no idea what to make so just sketched something out, had a rummage through our materials then made a robin quickly followed by an excellent bee sculpture for his sisters garden. Christina had been on our course before so knew what to expect and this time channelled her boundless enthusiasm into making a heron on day one and then an abstract circular piece on day two, then painted them both too. Mike, an engineer by trade, meticulously worked on his ‘dog’ sculpture all weekend incorporating mechanical elements into its design too. Finally Luke had no preconceived plans about what to make, he just wanted to explore the world of metal sculpture and slowly created a small world of intriguing objects that looked like they had a purpose but you couldn’t quite work out what. If you fancy having a go yourself we’ve got one place left on our July course and four on the October one.
I recently did the second school workshop making creatures from the ‘Heart of the Wood’ book and this time it was at Lacewood Primary in Bolton on Dearne. I made an armature of a T Rex and took it to the school together with lots of plastic packaging, anything that would bulk out the body and miles of sticky tape. Mr Bletcher’s class were great, it’s not easy all making components of one piece of sculpture and trying to fit them together in three hours but we managed it. Terry the T Rex as he’s now called will star in the performance in October when all the various elements of the project come together.
We just ran our April course last weekend and we had two return students on this one. I like to think they just can’t get enough of mine and Billy’s charisma but i guess it’s more likely that they’re more confident now after the first go and wanted to challenge themselves a bit more. So, first up we’ve got Robert who couldn’t resist the big cogs again this time and made a huge rock salmon, the idea was to include a rock he’d brought along but he just went purely metal in the end. Diane came down from Perth for the course and to see her mate Jules again. Being a jeweller she started off small but then obviously thought what the hell and made a quite elaborate weathervane. Jules made a running bird for her garden which kind of looked a bit like roadrunner which is no bad thing and a small train for her son Thomas. Mandy wanted to make a water feature for her pond, so spent a lot of time bending steel to look like foliage and hammering steel to look like leaves, so much time in fact that we had to help her out towards the end with a bit of welding. All the students left happy with at least one pieces of sculpture they’d made themselves by the end of the weekend. Thanks as ever to my sidekick and fellow sculptor David Mayne who i run the course with. If you fancy having a go yourself we’ve got one place left on our July course and four places on the October one.
I’ve recently done my first schools work in a long time and it was to work on a great project in South Yorkshire based on a book about two children who go on an underground adventure to learn more about their grandfather and his mining past. I had to make lots of rats with a class of pupils from Heather Garth Primary in Bolton on Dearne which will be part of the finale extravaganza to the whole project. We used plastic wrapping, sellotape and wire to form the rats and then electrical tape to colour them. A thoroughly wonderful morning in school and who’d have thought rats could come in so many shapes and sizes !
We’re back again running our courses for 2023 now the weather is (in theory) a bit warmer. I run the courses with my good friend and fellow sculptor David Mayne, check out his website too to see what kind of welded steel sculpture he makes. So, we had two returnees and two newbies last weekend, Seth and Tim have been three times now and we welcomed Deb and Jen to our studios. Seth, describing himself now as ‘veteran’ on his booking form worked with 5mm steel plate to make a fire pit then went on to make a grill for his pizza oven and a rack for his outdoor kitchen implements. Tim had big ideas too, this time to replace the panels in his garden gate with his own plasma cut designs. Deb is a silversmith based in Keswick and was bought a place on the course as a Christmas present, she decided to scale up some of her pieces into giant junk steel works of art and then make a firepit. Finally Jen who normally works with mosaic tiles made some rabbits from scrap steel and then decided to make a crocodile firepit, as you do. It was a great start to the years courses and everyone enjoyed themselves taking home a collection of pieces they’d made themselves.
My throne and arch have finally been sited in Barley Hill Park Quiet Garden in Garforth. It’s good to finally get these pieces out of storage and where they were intended. It was a great commission to work on, we met as a group in my workshop and sketched out ideas for the two pieces and then i went ahead and made them – a lovely way to realise commissioned work. There’s still some groundwork to do on the garden itself like path laying and the installation of toadstool seating round the throne but it should all be ready in a fortnight.