Cork Street Open 2014

Hope some of you can make the Cork Street Open – 16 to 21 June. We selected from over 600 entries and the final cut was by 2 eminent gallerists
My sculpture ‘Torsion’ is being shown (and no, we weren’t able to vote for our own!)


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In the footsteps of Barbara Hepworth…

…Or to be more accurate, Dennis Mitchell, one of her best known assistants.

mejamesmayorTurns out that there used to be a sculpture at the entrance courtyard to St Nicholas Court, St Ives, Cornwall by Dennis Mitchell, a sculptor whose work I greatly admire. Legend has it that a young lad got his head stuck in it and that it was subsequently sold (in the 1970’s) – victim of early ‘health and safety’ no doubt! The space has been waiting for a new sculpture ever since…drillingkevjames

builderssurfI’ve done two earlier posts on this project to do with working up the commission and scaling up so I won’t repeat myself here, but focus on the final stages and the unveiling.

The final full size plaster sculpture of ‘Free Spirit’ was taken off to LS Sculpture Casting and some weeks later I collected the bronze resin casts which we treated with chemicals to accelerate the patination process – resulting in a gorgeous verdigris patina which will just get more blue-green with age, especially in the salt sea air of St Ives…

detailI have to say that LS did a cracking job and I couldn’t have been happier with the results

I stayed in St Ives in the run up to the installation and unveiling in order to oversee the erection of the plinth and the delivery of the slate from Delabole – all quite nerve racking but exciting too.  They did a great job and the slate itself is gorgeous with the memorial inscription to Kenneth Lindon-Travers nice and bold.mesmilinglooking

It all took a while so I didn’t get to install the sculpture itself until the afternoon before the unveiling (yikes!).  It all came together nicely though and there was a great gathering for the unveiling ceremony – James said some words about his father and the Mayor did his bit with a flourish…mayor

All in all a truly wonderful experience – a rare opportunity and a real honour to have a sculpture in my beloved St Ives and I was chuffed to bits to have my Dad there and my wife and our two boys to witness it all (and to remind me that it actually happened!).




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Scaling up my St Ives commission

fmaq10This post follows on from my previous one on working up my St Ives commission – it’s about how you get from the final 2′ working maquette (opposite) to the finished 6′ sculpture.

It is possible to pay others to do this but I felt that I wanted to maintain my ‘hands on’. Additionally I think it’s important that the full scale sculpture is not an absolute copy of the maquette because it is desirable to be able to make subtle changes – for example to take account of the effect of changing perspective with scale.  I also wanted to be able to use different textures in the surface treatment – something that wasn’t possible at maquette level.

For a sculpture of this type the best way of scaling up initially, to get the major forms in, is to use polystyrene.  This is common practice in the film industry and has been widely used by sculptors since it was pioneered by Henry Moore.

To get started and also because using a ‘hot wire’ (to cut the huge poly blocks) is a two man job, I enlisted the services of Richard Smith.  Richard has had a long career working with Shepperton / Pinewood / Ealing Studios on films as diverse as Star Wars, Quantum of Solace and Sherlock.

2013_1203polyscalingpics0002Under Richards watchful eye my first task was to ‘grid up’ photographs of the maquette and to reproduce at full scale the profile outlines on the poly block.  Once these profiles were in place we were able to cut into the blocks to reveal the full size sculptures.  At this point, because only the profiles have been cut, the sculptures are very ‘blocky’ but nevertheless have quite interesting forms (below right).2013_1203polyscalingpics0009

It was then back over to me to begin the process of sculpting into the poly (using saws, knives and wire brushes) to find the detail of the sculptures.  Once I was happy with the basic forms in poly, Cryastacal (a type of very hard plaster) was applied .  I guess the poly provides a kind of frame or base for the plaster which itself enables the sculptural details and surface textures to be worked in.2013_1203polyscalingpics0016

All in all a protracted and somewhat labour intensive process, but a deeply satisfying one.  The finished forms are currently being moulded and cast with installation at St Ives set for next month – as you can imagine, I’m very excited and also quite nervous at the same time – watch this space to see how the unveiling goes!




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Affordable Art Fair – Here I come

Black WidowReally excited to announce that I have a new gallery – Sheridan Russell Gallery – and to kick off with they will be taking 5 of my sculptures to the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea London.

Most of you will know this as one of the most prestigious Art Fairs where many top Galleries are represented and great contemporary work can be seen and purchased.

Hope you will have a chance to pop along and please take advantage of this half price ticket offer – HalfPriceEmail

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2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Working up my St Ives commission

st ives1If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you will know how much my beloved Cornwall means to me and especially magical St Ives.  Imagine then, my utter joy when asked to come up with some ideas for a 6′ sculpture to be placed at the heart of the old town.

My client first told me about this project in 2010, not long after I discovered sculpture – how much I wished I could have been involved at that point, but I was only at the beginning of my journey…

The sculpture is to be a memorial to my client’s father who built the development where the work is to be sited (at this point still confidential – but more news in due course).  He has spoken to a number of other sculptors over the last couple of years but struggled to find someone who could get on his wavelength or in whom he had the confidence to deliver. 

We kept in touch and he witnessed my personal artistic development first hand – he began to feel that there was a resonance for him; his dad had been a painter and he could see similarities in our abstractions of the human form.  Hence he invited me to come up with some sketch maquettes…


2013_1121pics0013In beginning to work up ideas I looked at a number of factors – some site specific such as the macro location (between the bays in St Ives) and some micro (the peculiarities of the precise location itself).  Then of course there is the broader context – I was for example able to get hold of a number images of the father’s paintings.

Another detail is that there had previously been a Hepworth type sculpture on the site – so I wanted to reflect this in some of my ideas to see if this connection ultimately resonated in some way.   2013_1121pics0011

Initially I made loads of actual sketches to try and start working up ideas for forms and as these began to develop I made a series of 3d sketch maquettes in plaxtin and wire & tape, a selection of which I’ve shown here.

2013_1121pics0019Eventually – and I’ve deliberately missed out loads re site visits and client / trustee meetings and so on that you might expect.

We agreed on the preferred little sketch which I then used as a reference to develop the final working maquette which is about 2′ high (see bellow).

It is in two inter-related forms and made of wire and crystacal (plaster) – it has for me a feeling of dancing waves and is at once of the sea and of the human form.  It looks lovely in-situ and now my job is to scale it up to produce the final work which is due to be unveiled in Spring 2014.

More news to follow…fmaq10

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Back to Brisons Veor, Cape Cornwall


‘And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea gulls crying’

The immortal words of John Masefield in his poem ‘Sea Fever’ capture at once for me what it is to be by the sea or more appropriately to yearn for it – which is precisely what I do when I haven’t had my ‘fix’.

Reverie II

Reverie II

I was beyond excited to be awarded a second residency at this special place and thought I might share with you some extracts from my diary…

‘Can’t believe it was only a year ago – feels both a long, long time ago and yet in another sense it’s so familiar, it’s like I never left.

There’s definitely a melancholic edge to the place for me, but it in a kind of comforting way; it’s certainly not sad and there’s a feeling of hope and expectation.

Taken back in my mind to what an artistic low I was at when I arrived here last time and how I knew I had found the start of a new creative stream before I left, one that has continued to develop to this day but with strong roots in that time…

It’s very bleak today – stormy winds and angry waves; the house feels dark but is warm, welcoming and cosy.  I feel at home…’

1 Energy LinesAlthough my experience this time was less monumental, it was nevertheless significant.  It was more about development and moving forward, than about finding myself.  It’s all about the value of time spent alone with nothing but one’s thoughts and being able to immerse oneself in this truly inspirational environment.

The creative juices really get to flow.

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