Category Archives: Art

Catching up with our Student Sculptor 2017 winner

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

In May last year, metals4U launched our first student sculptor competition in association with Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The first prize was a place on ‘Brian Fell’s Midsummer Metal Workshop’ worth £270. The course ran over two days and was packed with demonstrations, advice and extensive access to metal and specialist equipment.

To enter, students had to be over 18 years of age and simply submit a picture of either their current or best sculpture or their design drawings to be judged by metal sculptor Brian Fell.

Jessica Smith, a student from York St John University, heard about the metals4U Student Sculpture competition from her tutors at university and decided to apply. Her submission was a piece titled, “Sticks and Tape.”

Sculpture made from sticks and tape by student Jessica Smith

‘Sticks and Tape’

The entries into the inaugural competition were all very strong and showcased a tremendous amount of emerging talent from students across the North of England. Brian Fell felt that Jessica’s entry really stood out by saying, “Jessica had the strongest application and we felt she would benefit the most from the course.” Jessica says she was thrilled to win the competition, especially as she had never entered a competition like this before, nor had she ever set foot inside a metalwork shop.

metals4U Student Sculptor competition winner Jessica Smith with Brian Fell at his Midsummer Metals workshop

Jessica attended the course in June 2017 under the expert tutelage of Brian Fell, George Fell and Owen Cunningham. Jessica found the course invaluable to her learning new skills, techniques and discovering the possibilities for creative exploration using metal.

The course began by introducing the students to all the equipment and a tutorial on how to use the tools with the materials available. The workshop attendees were then left to explore and experiment under expert guidance and with practical help always on hand. Jessica particularly enjoyed using the plasma cutter and learning how to weld. This is highly evident in the pieces she is now producing.

Jessica was brought up in Huddersfield; a large market town between Leeds and Manchester in West Yorkshire. Jessica’s grandmother, Kate Powell, is an accomplished artist and provided Jessica with her earliest introduction to technique and, perhaps more importantly, the appreciation of art in all its forms. On leaving King James’ School in Huddersfield where she studied textiles at GCSE, she enrolled on an apprenticeship in floristry. After a short while her growing interest in the formal study of art led her to enrol on an Extended Diploma course at Leeds College of Art. On successful completion of her course in Leeds in 2014, she relocated to start a fine art degree course at Bath School of Art. After a year, Jessica decided to return to the north and transferred to study Fine Art at York St John University. York has been a perfect fit for her as she has fallen in love with the city and the location works well for her to create and promote her art.

Jessica’s early work was focused on landscapes that were created on canvas or board by using mixed media such as rust particles, assorted fibres and, as she confesses, “Anything I could find really, just recycling anything I could get my hands on.” Jessica states the inspiration for her work comes from her love of the Yorkshire Dales.

Her work in sculpture also began by using anything she found lying around; sticks, canes, old broken paint brushes and truly random finds can all be recognised in her early work. Jessica is intrigued by balance and creates structures to see just how far she can push the boundaries to find the critical point just before collapse.

This piece, based on her submitted competition entry, was constructed on the Midsummer Metal Workshop using mild steel, however, Jessica is eager to try out weathering steel (Corten) to see just how the oxidation would change the look of her work over time.

Metal sculpture created by Student Sculptor winner Jessica Smith at Brian Fell's Midsummer Metals workshop

The work she produces now show her inspiration and motivation to demonstrate the transparency of the construction process as an integral component of the final piece.

These pieces have been made since attending the course and show how her metal working skills have flourished and developed to create stunning effects on sheet steel.

 

 

Jessica loves how she can use metal to depict the patchwork effects of the dry-stone walls and fields of the rural northern landscape.

Metal manipulated by Jessica Smith

Since attending the metal sculpture course, Jessica has had her work accepted to appear in several exhibitions.

In July 2017 her work was showcased in a charity exhibition in her home town of Huddersfield to help raise money for the homeless charity, “Huddersfield Change project.” In January of this year her work was shown alongside her fellow third year students in the “Arts and Draught” exhibition at ‘Brew York’ on Walmgate in the heart of the city.

Jessica is certainly gaining a lot of respect within the art local art world and has had several pieces of her work selected to be included in the “ Ones to watch” emerging artist exhibition at Sunny Bank Mills, Leeds, which is on until April 12th – it is well worth the visit to have a look at her work alongside that of another  thirty four  emerging artists. If you cannot make it to Leeds before mid-April, the degree show at York St John University that exhibits this year’s graduating students’ work, will be held in York from June 8th. Do pop along if you get the chance.

Within the next year or so, Jessica hopes to do a master’s degree to extend her skills and knowledge, until then, she intends to keep herself active with her sculptures by applying for the ‘emerging artist’ place on the Scottish Sculpture Workshop’s summer residency. If successful, she will get an opportunity to immerse herself for a whole month in developing her sculpture techniques. We wish her all the very best of luck with her future endeavours and metals4U are thrilled to have been involved in introducing Jessica to the world of creating art from metal.

To see more of Jessica’s work, check out her new website and Instagram portfolios.

Want to see a master at work?

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

Imagine you received a mystery delivery of steel and copper, and had 24 hours in a blacksmith’s workshop to create something cool. What would you do?

That’s the challenge we set YouTuber, blacksmith and all-round entertainer, Alec Steele. Though Alec being Alec, he said he didn’t need 24 hours to create something awesome as he could do it in just 12!

It turns out he was right.

Check out the video below to see what he made.


If Alec has inspired you to get into blacksmithing, or put your existing skills to use creating a sculpture of your own, metals4U has got you covered.

Visit our blacksmith page for all the tools and supplies you could ever need for your project.

Also, be sure to follow Alec on YouTube to see more amazing creations.

Blacksmithing is back with a bang

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

The word ‘Blacksmith’ whisks you straight back to medieval times. It conjures up images of cobbles, blackened hands, open fires and the odd horseshoe. But this beautiful craft is far from lost in time.

Blacksmithing is making a huge comeback and we’re joining forces with one of those on the front line.
Youtuber Alec Steel with question mark

Enter Alec Steele. This energetic entertainer is reviving the craft one YouTube vlog at a time. His channel gives you all the tips and tricks you need to get started with this rewarding hobby – and plenty of laughs to boot.

Expect videos filled with the clashing of steel on steel and sparks from yellow-hot metal, ending with weird and wonderful treasures straight from the flames.

Covering everything from forging huge machetes to dissecting ancient meteorites, his daily vlogs will have you itching to try blacksmithing for yourself. You only have to take a look at the comments section to see the passion he’s ignited in millions of viewers. And here at Metals4U, we’re no exception.

Obsessed with all things metal, we were eager to put Alec through his paces. We invited him to take on a tough 24-hour challenge using only Metals4U materials.

Never one to turn down a chance to get creative, Alec will be tackling the Metals4U challenge on his YouTube channel in the next few weeks. Make sure you follow us on social to see him in action.

Want to give blacksmithing a go? Keep your eyes on our blog for more about Alec and how to get started.

Inspiring student sculptors

(Last modified: February 11th, 2019)

Earlier this month Jessica Smith from York St. Johns University was chosen as the worthy winner of our Student Sculptor competition. She took home an invaluable prize – a place on the YSP metal workshop with renowned Sculptor Brian Fell. You can take a look at how she moved her designs on to create a new and exciting piece here.

But it wasn’t an easy decision. Our competition brought a whole host of budding artists out of the woodwork. Here at Metals4U, we were so inspired by the level and quality of entries we had to share some of our favourites with you:

Sharon Thompson
Sharon_Thomson_003
‘My steel sculpture is called “The Lure of Attachment” and is a discarded Mermaids tail. It is a story of transformation, how the lure of attachment, which is represented within the welded metal joins, can entrap us and halt our development.’

 

Hannah Duckworth
Hannah_Duckworth_001
‘My art looks at that most primordial of questions… working with the concepts of religion, redemption, preservation and alchemy I tackle this question. In my most recent work by casting lead into The Bible, a highly symbolic and holy book, I represent two opposing ideas, preservation and destruction of religion.’

 

Sam Copsey
Sam_Copsey_003
‘I am building a large scale insect-like sculpture from found objects and scrap metal, built upon a functioning off road go kart. The twist being that the initial static appearing sculpture comes to life when approached by the viewer.’

 

Deborah Sisk
Deborah_sisk_001
‘I made the sculpture for a nature reserve in the north east of England from nails and wood. Using various types of nails for the feathers I wanted to depict the harsh nature of the metal juxtaposed with the softness of the feathers.’

 

Connor Frederick Lowe
Connor_Fredrick_003
‘I predominately focus on processes of compression, in which I force durable industrial materials such as steel and concrete to behave unpredictably. The stresses between these materials when compressed force them to change in appearance making them look deformed, reflecting my inner personal frustrations with aspects of my life that appear un-controllable.’

 

Megan Louise Ekberg
Megan_Louise_Ekberg_002
‘The genesis of my structure is derived from my interest in architectural art. All buildings as I see them take linear proportions which I first noticed in old classical buildings.’

To see every entry we received head over to our Facebook page.