We’ve just done another course, this one is not long after the last one because we’re fitting our schedule around Billy’s social life at the moment. Anyway, as usual four very happy students took their work home with them at the end of the weekend, all surprising themselves with what they thought they were capable of. In my room were Selma and Adrian, both making garden sculpture. Selma made a pond cover which she adorned with lilies and a dragonfly whilst Adrian used his ex-engineer skills and made a motorbike themed garden obelisk. In Billy’s room, Melissa brought various bits of scrap metal from her own garden and combined them with our scrap metal to make a unique Etruscan inspired garden ornament, whereas Jules felt compelled to make a version of the solar system after easily making a strange animal head. Thanks as ever to Billy (David Mayne really) who i run the courses with, we’ve got two more this year which are full then we sort out next years dates. If you want to go on our waiting list and get those dates first, just drop me an email.
We just had three students on this month’s course because one dropped out on the day due to covid which was a shame. I had two students in my room and first up, using the brand new fold down workbench was Matt. He didn’t come with any preconceived ideas and just wanted to play it by ear, which he certainly did by making a mini barbecuing man complete with sausages and steaks. Nick was bought the course place as a present and first off made an elaborate plant pot stand for his garden then went on to make a dragonfly that swayed slightly on it’s own pole. In Billy’s room was Ella, a silversmith who just wanted to explore working with a welder and plasma cutter. She made a cut out bird in relief and then an architectural study based on a trumpet cone shape. Everyone was surprised with what they’d achieved (as usual) by the end of Sunday and three happy students took their own work home with them. Special thanks to Billy (David Mayne) who i run the courses with because he was struggling a bit this time after having covid earlier in the week but still rallied on until the end of the course.
A little bit late posting this i know but it was Artweek not so long ago here in the Holme Valley. It’s the first time since 2019 that we’ve managed to stage the whole event and it’s been a welcome return. In the main exhibition i put all my pieces together for the first time ever rather than putting them in various spaces once i’d positioned everyone else’s work. I sold the huge moose head too, which was a bonus because i’d no idea where he was going to go after coming back from Globe Arts. We ran ‘Open Studios’ as our fringe event at Sculpture Lounge and pretty much every studio was open to the public for the week, the only time of the year when you can access the whole of the mill. Lots of visitors came round and i sold more than usual which was great and i even got loads of odd jobs done in and amongst visitors like making a new fold down workbench for our weekend courses.
We’ve recently had the arts festival again in Holmfirth and i took it upon myself to work again in wood. With a quick scribble on a piece of cardboard i launched myself again into the world of wood. I secretly quite enjoyed working in wood, especially with my ‘no rules’ policy of woodwork and the fact that i’ve bought myself a new chop-saw. The theme was ‘earth beneath our feet’ and i decided to make a giant mole. Collecting wood from various skips i soon had enough to make a start. I didn’t work with a school this time so i didn’t need to be too careful with the way i made the mole and Sky Blue helped keep me on track with the painting side of things. The piece itself is still in New Mill Community Garden because it had nowhere else to go.
It honestly doesn’t seem 5 minutes since our last one but we’ve just completed course number 31. I know it’s a beginners metal sculpture course but this was the first time we’ve had a student put their welding helmet on the wrong way round. I won’t mention their name but let’s just say that was a blip because they went on to make some lovely work. So, first up in my room was Kate, she brought a grille with her and quite fancied making a fire pit which came together really quickly so she went on to make an owl using all our forks for feathers and then a last minute flower for her garden. Kate’s friend Hilary was with me too and she made a magnificent wild boar from old tools and whatever else she could find in our scrap boxes and it really did have a lot of character. In Billy’s room were husband and wife Steve and Leonie. Steve spent ages making a face wearing some headphones only to abandon it and make a bespoke knife rack for his kitchen. Leonie made a junk figure holding a chain then went on to make a bat for her garden. None of our students had ever welded before and all went home with pieces of metal sculpture they’d ended up making themselves. Thanks again to my fellow metal sculptor David Mayne, we run the course between us. We’re full for the rest of this years courses but if you want to go on the waiting list and get next years dates before we release them publicly then just drop me and email.
We’ve just popped up again in the centre of Holmfirth for a quick two week run this time to coincide with some other stuff that seems to be involving everyone nationally. There’s a few less of us this time because artists can get over committed this time of year but it basically means we can exhibit all the work and don’t have to keep a bit back in the store room. We even managed to have a preview evening for the first time which went very well. So, if you find yourself in Holmfirth between now and June 10th between 10 and 4 do pop in and peruse the work of 16 local artists.
Thirty courses and we’ve not fallen out yet running these courses Billy and i ! This one was a great one, i know i probably always say that but as Vinnie Jones said in Lock Stock, ‘its been emotional’. We had four female students, Christina, Gillian, Elaine and Mandy and they made it really good fun with their input and their stories but mostly with the fact that they worked so well as a group supporting each other and exceeded their own expectations with what they made. Christina just wanted to make a smallish garden sculpture based on a heart as a memorial to her parents then ended up making a huge piece, bigger than herself which brought a tear to everyones eye when she finally finished it. Gillian made a moving garden sculpture based around fireworks and used some car springs she’d found and also raided the scrap bin at the garage next door. Elaine came up from Brighton to do the course and really enjoyed using the plasma cutter to create a landscape piece with movable elements, a bit like the scenery for a puppet show. Finally, Mandy made a sculptural frame complete with a crow and a tree to compliment a piece of mosaic art she’s planning plus a free standing cut out crow on a pole for her garden. The summer is almost here now so it might be a bit warmer in the mill for the next course, but then again.
Heads and Tales, my first solo exhibition in 13 years has just opened at Globe Arts Studios in Slaithwaite. It’s also their first sculpture exhibition so it’s quite an honour. Needless to say i’ve got everything but the kitchen sink on display, 65 pieces if you count the big multi coloured scrap head in the garden. What i like about Globe apart from the great staff obviously is the different areas of the gallery space which fitted my work really well. I could put the really heavy wall pieces on the solid walls, the lighter animal heads on the wooden screen walls and all my metalhead pieces in the glass display shelves. There’s a bit of a mixture of heads in the exhibition from the huge comical moose head through the colourful scrap animal heads to the human heads made from different scrap materials. The show runs until June 18th.
Yesterday David Mayne (Billy) and myself ran our 29th metal sculpture course and we were very pleased with the way it went, hopefully our students were too. We had two new ones and two returning students, so we must be doing something right. First up in my room was Sarah who was very unconfident about her abilities but once she learnt how to weld and plasma cut she went on to make a brilliant sheep for her garden which even wobbled a bit on it’s springy legs, adding to it’s charm. Richard had been on the course last May so was ok at welding and came with lots of plans to make garden table & bench legs, which we’ll get galvanised for him and then went on to make a comical snail too. Iris came up from Devon for the course and was just happy to work with different metals and learn the various ways you can fix them together, definitely a research trip for her. Lastly we had James back again and after being inspired by barn owls near his home he raided my cutlery trays and made his own version which was just about to leap from a garden fork. Everyone finished something to take home with them at the end of the weekend, including James, who only seemed to finish his piece with three of us standing nearby willing him on ! All our courses are full this year but email me if you want to go on our waiting list or want to be amongst the first to get next years dates when we finalise them.
I finished and sited this piece not so long ago. It was commissioned by a good customer of mine as her own retirement present. I’m guessing to her it meant a new start in life after many years being a doctor but to me it was a great challenge. I’d never made a phoenix before, so quickly scribbled out something for her and then set to work. I wanted it to have quite a bit of height and have a contrast between the stand and the bird itself. I had some old Ikea table legs which tapered nicely so i used these for the structure of the wings and made the rest from new sheet steel which i plasma cut into shape and the stand was a good way of using up all the chunky, rusty, twisted pieces i’d saved over the years. Anyway, there’s no mistaking which is her house !
After five months off we’ve recently run our latest sculpture course and even though we felt a bit rusty to start with we quickly remembered how we do them and it all went really well. Adrian was bought a place on the course for his big birthday and being fairly handy anyhow quickly made the owl bird box he thought would take him all weekend and went on to make various flowers and a dragonfly which stuck out of his car boot as he left on Sunday teatime. Victoria, who normally works with willow wanted to learn how to weld properly and make armatures, she quickly realised it wasn’t her that couldn’t weld but the welder she had. Buoyed along with this new found achievement she made a small sheep then thought what the hell and made a full size one the next day, complete with a moving head made from an old wok. Husband and wife, Tracy and Steve made an assortment of pieces for their garden including two tall abstract pieces, a walking figure, a bee and an Escher triangle. Four very happy students took their own sculptures home with them on the Sunday. My good friend and fellow sculptor at Sculpture Lounge, David Mayne and i run the courses once a month from March through to October. We’re fully booked for this year, a mixture of Covid backlog, repeat bookings, people wanting unique presents and us being just too damn popular (only kidding) so if you want to try it we can always add you to our waiting list.
Last year i re-vamped the railings of Bengal Spice who are next door to Da Vinci’s on Dunford Road in Holmfirth. Those railings made Da Vinci’s existing ones look really poor by comparison, mainly because they were falling apart so they asked me if i’d make them some new ones. There was nothing worth keeping apart from the frames and the handrails so Steve and Tom just said ‘do whatever you want’, so i did. I drew out a design of the various food and drinks they sell on big sheets of cardboard and started to bend steel to the same shape to form the new railings. It was a really lovely project to work on, partly because Steve and Tom were really easy to work with but also because i could just have lots of fun with it. I’m also lucky to have some good friends who helped me every now and then with moving and siting them etc, in particular the very capable and hands on Martin Norman.
A recent project i’ve been working on are four new letters for Dewsbury market. Charlotte North from Emmeline North Design asked me to work on the project making four new letters with added guidance from Rebecca Appleby. The brief came about because Dewsbury market is going to close next year for a two year re-vamp and in the meantime a temporary market using shipping containers will be set up. This will incorporate a drinking area near a pub and Charlotte came up with the idea of having a big Dewsbury sign, a bit like the Hollywood sign after finding some old Superdry shop letters in a reclaim yard. As there are only four common letters in Dewsbury and Superdry, i was asked to make the other four based on designs the three of us worked out. I’ve really enjoyed working on this scale and having to be quite accurate for a change and it’ll be great to see the letters in place next spring.
We’ve just run our final course of 2021, from now on it gets a bit cold at Sculpture Lounge until March time when we pick up with the courses again. It was a full on weekend and all our students took home pieces of sculpture they’d made themselves. First up in my room was Rosemary who played it cautious on day one and made a garden flower but then launched into a 2 metre tall abstract garden sculpture on day two. She didn’t quite finish in time but luckily has her own welder so she can finish it at home. Robert came for a return visit and made a balancing insect and a heron from some of his own scrap metal and various bits of mine. Kerry came with some ideas based on a rowan tree and made a large garden sculpture after spending what seemed like most of the first day plasma cutting the leaves out. Husband Barry cut up Billy’s old cement mixer and made a floral themed fire pit from it. Luckily they came in two cars on the second day. I run the courses with my good friend and fellow sculptor David Mayne and they’re always great fun to do. At the moment we’re concentrating on catching up with our own work but we will sort out next years dates soon.
That’s another weekend sculpture course completed and four happy people taking their pieces home with them. None of our students had welded before and only two of them had ideas about what they wanted to make, which was fine – we don’t mind playing it by ear. After all, i’ve kind of made a career out of it. Anyway, first up is Kate and she’d been beach combing for all sorts of strange and twisted pieces of rusty metal which she combined into a sculptural garden piece / wind chime. Kate number 2 made an abstract circular garden sculpture that moved with the wind and a water timer for her kitchen. Adam got the hang of welding quite quickly so launched into making an ambitious stags head which may or may not be allowed in the house, we haven’t heard back yet. Finally Andrew worked quite methodically , choosing the perfect pieces of scrap steel and made a gecko for the side of his pond from drawer handles and cutlery.