While metal sculpture is a long-standing tradition (bronze sculpture was popular in the Renaissance, for example), the industrial age has given artists new materials and techniques to work with. How are modern artists using metal to create? And with the line between art, building and commerce blurring, what role can architectural products such as ours play?
Abdul Qader al-Na’ib’s scrap metal sculpture
Abdul Qader al-Na’ib, a 24-year-old artist in Baghdad welds together pieces of found scrap metal and used car parts to create robots, vehicles and animals. Na’ib gets his metal by scavenging at the dump or in the street where people have thrown things away. Working in scrap metal for just a couple of years, Na’ib now has sculptures on display in schools and ministries, and has opened a workshop where the public can admire and purchase his pieces.
Na’ib likes the medium of scrap metal not only because it is unique, but also because it reduces waste.
“I liked the idea because I wanted to do something different and I wanted to do something to serve the society,” he told Reuters.
Richard Serra’s steel plate creations
Richard Serra is an American artist who makes large-scale abstract sculptures from steel plate. His 2006 piece “Sequence”, for example, is 67 feet (20 metres) long and weighs more than 200 tonnes. His work has received mixed reactions; his 1981 piece “Tilted Arc”, a 12-feet high and 120-feet long steel wall through the middle of Federal Plaza in New York, received numerous complaints from locals. After a drawn-out court case, the piece was dismantled and removed less than 10 years after it had been installed. The Guardian called it “one of the most controversial works of public art of the 20th century.”
Serra’s later sculptures have been more well received, and his work was celebrated in a career retrospective at New York’s Moma in 2007.
Jeff Thomson’s corrugated iron animals
New Zealander Jeff Thomson has been using corrugated iron for sculpture since the 1980s, creating animals, letterboxes and other common objects. Perhaps most famously, he covered a Holden station wagon in the material. His work has a sense of humour and play to it, and he has engaged everyday New Zealanders with public works such as populating Auckland’s Albert Park with a herd of corrugated iron elephants in 1985. Thomson has used other materials such as wire netting and plastic, but it is his corrugated iron work that is most well known.
Pic-Perf images can be small enough to hang on the wall, or big enough to cover the building.
The artistic potential of Pic-Perf
Pic-Perf is an architectural product that sits on the threshold of structural and visual art, allowing you to recreate any image with perforated holes in a metal sheet. It has practical applications such as making partitions, balustrades or sunscreens, but it can also be used for purely aesthetic purposes like signage or decoration. Pic-Perf images work on the same principle as half-tone printing, with the size of the holes determining the tone of the image. The technique can be used on different materials and with different finishes, letting you choose an end result that suits your needs.
Pic-Perf images can be made small enough to be hung on the wall like a traditional piece of art, or big enough to cover that entire wall and the rest of the building. The perforated metal sheets are long-lasting and can be relocated, so art created as an installation doesn’t necessarily have to be confined to its original setting.
Many of Locker Group’s range of products have applications that go beyond the purely functional – they can be used to create striking sculptural art as well. Or better yet, create something that combines both aspects. Products like Pic-Perf can be used for practical features like screening that are also aesthetically pleasing and make beautiful settings.
If you’d like to talk about how our products can be used to achieve functional, stunning architectural features, please get in touch today.