As ever, my life has been hectic with things related to my business, the studio and of course home life – I knew I hadn’t written a blog post for a while; well Christmas was the last one I remembered. What I hadn’t realised was that I never posted anything about the second Metal Ages sculpture, and that was well, AGES ago!
Back at the end of September, we finally got the opportunity to install the final sculpture at Erewash Museum in Ilkeston. I say ‘we’ – that would be me with the camera and occasionally passing a drill or screwdriver, and Gavin & Mark doing the lifting, carrying, digging, drilling….
This one is a rather large sculpture. It’s over two metres high, and about two and a half metres wide. It is made up of 7,000 nuts, which represents the size of the workforce when Stanton Ironworks was in it’s heyday. It has four ‘vines’ growing from the ground, which represent the four main foundries that could be found in the Ilkeston area back in the 1900’s. Across the middle is a shank, used for pouring molten metal in a foundry. The centre of this holds a glass disk, which like the ‘Old Men & Pipes‘ sculpture at King George Gallery is inspired by the ‘fire in the sky’ that was ever present when Stanton was a busy place, and also representing new beginnings.
Last Saturday saw the first workshop from myself and Gavid Darby as part of The Metal Age project. We spent a day at Erewash Museum in Ilkeston hoping to talk to people about working in the local steel industry or memories of railways, etc.
Gavin had a go at doing some manhole rubbings, which was a bit too cold to brave for my liking, so I stayed indoors and invited people to “Design Your Own Manhole Cover”.
After sharing a few images of some of the amazing manhole cover designs that you can see, as well as the more mundane, and of course a few of the very prolific Stanton Ironworks designs ( (there’s another blog post I can write already), I gave visitors a template and we made a few of our own designs.
Here’s a few that were made on the day; it’s a fun method that’s not too difficult to learn – the key is in finding the right tools to emboss with really! We advertised it as being suitable for all ages, and a couple of the designs here were done by younger children, as well as adults (who seemed to enjoy it as much as the kids!).
The technique has inspired me to hopefully produce a larger piece that if it turns out well, could feature in the Metal Age Exhibition.
Well, I should start this post by wishing you a happy new year!
Sorry I haven’t blogged for a while. I’ve been kinda busy. During December, I was really busy with the Erewash Festival of Light. I did lots of workshops in primary schools in the area; I made over 90 decorations for the young ones to decorate, and then I also prepared and helped design/decorate over 185 glass jar lanterns. That’s 185 jars to wash and de-label. 185 names to ensure written on. 185 cable ties to check tight and trim. 185 lengths of twist tie to cut… and a LOT of tissue paper, tracing paper and glass marker pens to prepare. I must have sounded like some raging alcholic every time I went anywhere with my bags of glass, clinking away…. cheers!
So, that, and a little thing called Christmas was how I saw the tail end of 2012. But new year, new project, and I am now moving on to the Metal Ages. This is part of a the two year long Excite Inspire Engage Erewash; inspired by local heritage, and supported by Arts Council England and Erewash Partnership, it will explore different art forms with a series of workshops and exhibitions.
I am collaborating with another Ilkeston based artist, Gavin Darby of Frailloop a sculptor who describes himself as “I am Gavin and I weld things”. Take a look at his website, you will see that in fact, he is so much more – he creates fabulous sculptures which are full of character from bits from cars, machinery and so on. As well as the workshops we’re going to be running, which will involve both metal and glass technniques, casting and bridge building, we are working towards producing two sculptures that will live permanently, one at the King George Gallery and another at Erewash Museum.
We recently took a visit to Magna, a former steel foundry in Rotheram, and will be looking at the former Stanton Ironworks site, Bennerly Viaduct, manhole covers and generally looking at the former thriving steel and iron industry that once was in the Erewash area.
I was really sensible when I sorted my camera out to take with me on the Magna visit. Put in new batteries, and recharged not one, but two spare sets. Feeling smug, knowing I wasn’t going to run out of ‘fire power’ I get out my camera, to find it said memory full… so all I could get was a few snaps on the iPhone…. ah well, I have my (metal) memories…