Published Monday 30 April 2018 at 16:55
Seven apprentice welders are proving that manufacturing is an art.
They have teamed up with London-based artist David Murphy to create sculptures which will be unveiled at the free National Festival of Making in Blackburn on May 12 and 13.
The apprentices from WEC Group’s Training Academy in Darwen used factory processes such as oxy acetylene flame cutting, shaping, drilling, folding, grinding and finishing.
They worked collaboratively on the project but David said:
Individual decision-making, judgement and creativity have brought unique results and we might even begin to read the works as portraits.
More than 20,000 people visited last year’s festival in the town centre which will again feature a packed programme of exhibitions, workshops, markets, street theatre, music and food.
The project with WEC group, one of the UK’s largest engineering and fabrication companies, is part of the festival’s Art in Manufacturing programme. This has paired seven exciting artists with a diverse range of manufacturing companies to create new works of art.
David, who is originally from Newcastle, trained at the prestigious Glasgow School of Art and has exhibited in the UK, Italy and Egypt.
He is a former artist in residence at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and added:
I felt that working with the apprentices was very much in keeping with the spirit of the festival, to celebrate, share and demystify the manufacturing process as much as the art-making process.
The sculptures will be shown at Prism Contemporary, Lord Street West, Blackburn, from May 12 to 25.
Kris Mercer, WEC Group’s training and development manager, said:
As one of the leading engineering companies in Blackburn and Darwen, we were very keen to get involved with the Festival of Making once again, especially the Art in Manufacturing project.
We run a busy architectural metalwork division as part of our group and work closely with a lot of leading artists throughout the year.
Hosting David Murphy for a two-week residency in our Training Academy enabled our apprentices to experience the level of accuracy and skills required for metal art projects as well as the challenges they will face when they start working on commercial projects.