Jamie Wild always seems to have a dozen projects on the go. There's a strong entrepreneurial streak in him – he has just launched Feragaia, the aclohol-free 'spirit' – but he is best known for the animal sculptures he makes from scrap metal.
We wanted to know how this talented artist and conservationist got started and what the future holds for him.
Jamie, how did you get started in metal sculpture?
When I was 18, I did a holiday job in Cornwall for a local blacksmith. He taught me to weld, grind and hammer metal into shape. Without that basic grounding, I couldn’t do what I do now.
What was the first piece you ever did?
A horse’s head based on the marble horses which adorn the Parthenon in Athens, when I was 19.
Did you know immediately that metal was the the material you wanted to work in?
Yes. What I love about scrap is its variety. It comes in so many different shapes and colours and sizes, and that helps the creative process – when you can’t see a route forward the scrap shows you the way.
Where do you find it all?
Farmyards, blacksmiths, mechanics, scrap heaps - even the odd discarded scaffolding bracket found on the street.
Do you keep records of what’s gone into each sculpture? e.g. from an old Morris Marina, from a factory in Bradford etc?
Having collected so much scrap in the past it is hard to keep a detailed log. There are definitely a few pieces in each sculpture that I have an attachment to – often because I have tried and failed so many times to use them. One client gave me a car to take to pieces and there are little bits of Aston Martin DB4 in a few of my sculptures after a successful scrap run to a specialist garage. So they might be worth something one day!
Metal doesn't seem like a material you can tinker with or easily adjust, unlike, say, clay. If you weld a piece into place and it looks wrong, how do you put it right?
With hours of back-breaking work on an angle grinder. There’s no other way. The welding environment is pretty tough generally. After a long session in the workshop, the soft, cool touch of clay seems really appealing.
Some of your pieces like 'Leaping Cocker' seem to defy gravity. How do you manage that?
Mounting a sculpture is a vital part of the finishing process. In the case of the leaping cocker I had to ensure that the internal structure was strong enough to take the weight when it was fixed on struts into the ground.
If they want a special commission, what should clients expect to pay and what does the price depend on?
Material, size, finish are all factors. If pushed to approximate, they start at around £2,500 and go upwards.
Is there a waiting list and lead time?
There is a bit of a queue, but again it depends on the type of sculpture, so it's always worth asking and I’ll see what I can do. For people who want something soon, the limited edition bronzes are a good alternative. I work closely with the foundry that casts them to make sure that they have the same design intricacies as the metal originals.
If people want to buy one of the bronzes, how do they do that?
They can contact me directly by email on email@example.com. But also - I am exhibiting 10 bronze pieces in my first ever exhibition from 11th-22nd October at the Arboretum in the Charing Cross Road. If any Jenks&Co members want to visit, they can email me and I will arrange a pass.
Do you only sell privately and direct, or do you put pieces into galleries? If so, which ones?
I only sell privately and direct. As well as the UK, I have clients in Italy, France and Barbados.
Any public commissions yet?
Yes, one of my favourite commissions is ‘Monty the Orangutan’ which is in The Eden Project’s Rainforest biome. It is in the south east Asian section of the rainforest and tells the story of the impact that unsustainable palm oil farming has on the species and habitat it lives in.
Thank you Jamie!
Jamie Wild's exhibition runs from 11th October to 22nd November at the Arboretum Club, 2A Charing Cross Rd, Charing Cross, London WC2H 0HF. Entry only with a ticket - contact Jamie on firstname.lastname@example.org