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.
We’ve just popped up again in the old Tourist Information Centre in Holmfirth. This time it was a bit last minute as we were waiting on a couple of council decisions before we got started but we’re in and set up now. There are 18 of us in this time showing everything from painting, prints, jewellery, caps, textiles, ceramics and even metal sculpture. To attract people’s attention i’ve borrowed ‘Don – Man of mystery’ to put in the window and he seems to be doing the trick. We’re open Wednesday to Sunday 10-4 until New Years Eve (excluding Christmas and Boxing Day) and there’ll be a different one of us every day playing at shopkeepers.
Well that’s it for this year’s sculpture courses, we think it gets too cold for the students from now on in until March when we bravely host our first course of the year and it was a really lovely one to finish on. We had three members of the same family up from Cornwall and Kent plus my mate Carl, who as usual all surprised themselves with what they were capable of making. First up in my room was Al with his very ambitious wind powered sculptural helicopter. Luckily i had loads of scrap cones from Ikea lights which nicely fitted the bill and saved Al a huge amount of time. Carl was bought a place on the course as a present and fancied making a pig weathervane which he easily did and went on to make a garden bird too. Lou thought she’d just make a flower for her garden but after completing that went on to make a woodpecker from an old shovel. Finally Zoe worked in miniature, making a cake stand and some shelves for the tiny fimo clay cakes she makes at home and sells on Etsy. Thanks as ever to my marvellous co-host for running the courses with me, Billy or to use his real title – David Mayne. We’re going to be sorting out next years dates imminently and will email them out to our waiting list first so if you want to be on it just email me.
Can you hear the sound of dolphins ? No, me neither but Barry certainly could on this, his second time on our course. His abstract garden sculpture was inspired by dolphins, he said and it was so big, Kerry and him had to come in two cars on the Sunday so it could make it home. Kerry made a large garden sculpture too, a dragonfly using lot’s of scrap pieces of steel. With it being their second time, both Barry & Kerry easily handled the welding. In my room was Alan and Claire. Alan had been bought a place on the course and his inspiration was a tawny owl that lived in his garden, or was it a brown owl ? Anyway, he made his own unique owl with lots of character and a mouse too. Claire came on the course to learn how to weld armatures for her own work with ‘sand in your eye’, her company that makes landscape art. First time welding she made a heron so big that she had to come in a van on day two just so it could get home to Hebden Bridge. Thanks as always to my good friend and course co-hoster David Mayne (Billy) for another great course. Next years dates will be out next month not long after we run our last course of 2022.
I’ve just completed a series of kids junk sculpture workshops in various Kirklees libraries. With a time limit of two hours each and the fact that they took place in libraries meant i was a bit limited as to what i could do but everyone who took part went home with at least one piece of sculpture. We used sheet plastic as well as various bits of hard plastic like handles and wheels together with wire, sellotape and then used electrical tape to colour them. The kids went home with pieces such as cats, dogs, burgers, ladybirds, aliens, minions, snails, snakes, fish, rabbits, dinosaurs, submarines, boats and showering machines !
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.