Tuesday, 20 June 2017

'Ancient Landscapes: New Lines' Exhibition 23rd June - 2nd September 2017

Ancient Landscapes: New Lines

The Wiltshire landscape that surrounds their studios is the inspiration for Melissa Cole‘s steel sculptures and Jonathan Mansfield‘s paintings. Considering the contemporary geography in relation to ancient geology, the artists’ works are exhibited alongside Pitt Rivers Museum finds from excavation sites – objects held in the Salisbury Museum Pitt Rivers collection.

23 June – 2 September 2017, The Pound, Pound Pill, Corsham, Wiltshire SN13 9HX. www.poundarts.org.uk
#NewLinesArt #landscape #sculpture

I will be showing with Jonathan Mansfield for the first time space at The Pound Arts Centre in Corsham, Wiltshire.
Landscape by Jonathan Mansfield
As artists living within a few miles of each others studios we have been brought together for this exhibition by Fiona Cassidy, curator at The Pound and we will present our individual experiences of journeying, sensing and interpreting the local landscapes through evocative sculptures and vibrant paintings. 

This exhibition explores new ways of presenting the physical environment and, by way of contrast and similarity, includes topographical models and original artefacts on loan from The Salisbury Museums Pitt Rivers collection.

This has been an opportunity for me to work on new landscape pieces as described in my previous blog and also experiment with different finishes as a direct result of my exposure to Jon's brilliantly vibrant, colourful paintings.

We both start our work directly in the landscape, Jon works out in the field, taking his canvas paints etc. with him, working quickly and the dynamic outdoors nature of this technique is captured in the finished works.  I travel through the landscape, slowly mostly on foot, bike or horseback and rely heavily on memory of motion for my work.  I also sketch and photograph but mostly its the remembering of the space and motion through it that informs the finished pieces.

You can read more about Jon's work on his blog here:

Note on new sculptural work at The Pound Arts, Corsham. June 2017

Ancient Landscapes; New Lines
Pound Arts
Pound Pill, Corsham, Wiltshire. SN13 9HX

Notes on my work

For anyone that has followed the progress of my sculptural work, there are developments afoot.

The Landscape NH series of modular sculptures are based on familiar landscapes around Puthall Farm, towards Axford, Ramsbury and Mildenhall which I have walked, cycled and ridden for the last fifteen years.  The shapes and formations of the landscape and field boundaries; marks made by man on the land, have informed the lines and contours of the works as I have remembered them from repetitive journeys.  Familiar motifs of woodland peaks catching the sun, holloways and chalk pits are all represented in these works which are reflections on a journey across a remembered space.

The Lifeline sculptures started from a point of recognition of the historical and archeological features that surround Marlborough, Wiltshire. The nails mark those specific points of a journey on a to-scale map.  This was the beginning of the journeys and landscapes work and is for me, a significant and important move towards a new subject and style.

The new work, Lifeline Part 2A and 2B are drawings in forged steel of a part of the journey to my new home in the Pewsey Vale.  Repetition of a journey is backed up by sketching and photography enabling me to capture the essence of the space in which I am physically moving.  These pieces are made with the height of the hills to scale and may be recognizable to some who are familiar with that landscape.

The making process of the Lifeline works is integral to the work. Hot-forged lines, worked in three dimensions with changing sections of steel give the sensation of the movement through the landscape.  The way in which hedges squeeze us tight and landscape features and immovable boundaries make us move or make our eye follow a path.  The delicate and spindly nature of the new work is intentional, it reminds me of the fragility of the world we live in. 

The Journey pieces follow the paths and routes that I take regularly on foot, bike or horseback and are often circuitous.  The process of forging the route allows me to get the sensation of moving though the landscape.  These works are also to scale and made from remembered motion. 

 While we have fantastic mapping and visual technological aids to help us map our progress though the landscape, I find that it is my physical journey that best informs my work so rely on my memory of a journey to make these works. 

The way in which I work is following a formula of drawing and measuring, forging then forming.  The title numbers are a reference to the circumference of the work and each one is unique, a rarity it seems in the sculpture world of editions.

I am looking forward to finding a client who wants to commission me to make their landscape in either the forged variation of Lifeline or formed like the larger Landscape pieces.  If you would like to discuss this option please get in touch with me.

I am fortunate enough to live and travel across the most stunning landscape so close to my home, I want to say look at this natural resource all around us – don’t look through little screens and camera viewers – look, feel and sense the shapes, lines, places, paths, don’t take it for granted, it is so special.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Women In Trade Magazine Feature Summer 2015


I have been featured in a super on-line magazine Women In Trade which you can read on line here or you can purchase a PDF version for £3.25 

Women In Trade Magazine Summer 2015 British Designers Rock.

'Women in Trade Magazine is a stylish independent publication. The first tradeswomen-focused magazine in the UK; it simply exists to enrich lives with articles covering well being, life, spotlight, coaching, self & interviews with inspirational women'.

I am looking forward to meeting Rob and Chris from the 'With Love' project who aim to seek out individuals who create things with a passion and purpose. Who really care about what they do, asking one simple question along the way, "why do you do what you do?" You can see some of the people they have met so far on their website here. www.withloveproject.co.uk

This summer they will be embarking on a trip from Devon all the way up to Harris in the Outer Hebrides. The aim is to meet people on the way, get some interesting photography and a quick interview.  I will be greeting them in my forge at the beginning of June.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

My Amazing Dad Hector Cole Awarded an MBE 1st January 2015

I thought it would be a good idea to post here about the great news that my father Hector Cole has been awarded an MBE for Services to Heritage Crafts in the 2015 New Year's Honours!

He is really thrilled to get recognition for the 45 years of dedicated work specifically for his arrow-smithing and also within the broad spectrum of iron-working but, as many people will know, there is a lot more behind the award than is ever printed in the press.  I would like to share some of this information with you.

My sister Rebecca first brought up the idea of nominating Dad for an award, she thought he would be a great candidate for an honour and started to look into it.  There is a lot of work behind the scenes to make it happen and we were too late for that year so put it on the back burner. 

In 2014 I saw a tweet from www.heritagecrafts.org.uk asking if anyone knew a suitable crafts person to nominate for an honour.  I immediately tweeted back suggesting my Dad, Hector and it snowballed from there!  The Heritage Crafts Association have championed Hector though the nomination process, they helped us fine tune the application and make it successful.

My other sister Charlotte started to compile a list of people we could approach to support the nomination which we had to give  a snappy name!  That was the hardest part as how do you condense all that Dad has achieved into a couple of words?  We finally settled with 'Arrow Smith - Services to Heritage Cratfs' as this is the field of specialised forging that he has researched and developed over such a long time and is the area that most people now know him for.

I hope that this award will help to raise the profile of the heritage crafts and specifiacally blacksmithing in the UK as well as shine a light on a very special and talented perosn

Hector Cole MBE

Since the age of four when he was old enough to be allowed into the village smithy in his home village in Lincolnshire in the 1940’s, Gordon “Hector” Cole has had a passion for ironwork.
Hector trained as a metalwork teacher at Dudley Teacher Training College and subsequently moved to Wiltshire where he taught at secondary schools in Bristol and Malmesbury. Hector’s love for designing and working with metal was transmitted to his students who held him in high esteem.

Many past pupils have remained in contact with him long after leaving school and see him as a role model for their own careers as blacksmiths and engineers.  Hector has informally mentored and encouraged budding metalworkers by allowing them to work alongside him in his personal workshop, giving them free access to tools and working space that they would never have found elsewhere.  He continues to do this with work-placement students from school and Higher & Further Education Colleges.

Throughout his formal career Hector has enthusiastically shared his skills and knowledge in his over-riding passion for iron-work; traditional blacksmithing, blade-smithing, fencing and archery.

Hector is a dedicated educator, he has throughout his life thrived on the pleasure of sharing his knowledge and educating those interested in his craft.  He welcomes students, of all ages into his workshop and encourages the development of their skills and creativity.  Teenagers are frequently to be found in the workshop on work placements from the surrounding secondary schools, and Hector runs ‘master classes’ in his workshop for experienced blacksmiths who wish to hone or develop their skills.

During his teaching career at Malmesbury School, Hector also worked from his home forge developing his skills as an iron-worker.  Since taking voluntary redundancy in 1991 he has become increasingly specialised in archaeological and historical iron-working and blade-smithing methods and is regarded as a world authority in this specialist area, developing a successful small business from his newly built forge in Wiltshire and exporting his work to enthusiasts and collectors worldwide.

Hector has also produced beautiful traditional forge work for members of the Royal Household, notably the impressive main gates for Highgrove House (actually, these gates were designed by my Mum, Maris), home of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.  He also made the intricately forged entrance gates and heraldic overthrow at Charlton Park in Wiltshire for Lord Suffolk and was responsible for the complex restoration of a 17th C Austrian Buttery Bracket for Waddesdon Manor.

He has a worldwide client-base, including museums, collectors and private enthusiasts.  He has carried out extensive research into medieval metalworking techniques, and has worked on many prestigious projects including commissions for The Mary Rose museum project, The Royal Armouries, and The Museum of London. The research Hector has undertaken into the traditional methods of smelting iron ore, and forging blades and arrowheads has been documented in numerous television programmes, notably for the BBC and the History Channel.

Hector was awarded the Freedom of the City of London in 2002 and subsequently became a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company Of Blacksmiths, where he also holds the prestigious Silver Medal. These awards were based on his service to and excellence in his craft.  An applicant for this award is expected to have completed commissions of prestigious importance. It is considered that the range of commissions undertaken should be very broad compared with those for a Diploma or a Bronze Medal, a larger proportion of them being of outstanding quality both private and in the public sector.”(The Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths guidelines)

Hector serves on the Craft Committee of The Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths where he works to promote the craft and encourage excellence among other blacksmiths, assessing them at county shows and for awards.

Hector’s expertise has proved an invaluable asset to the heritage of British ironwork, his use of authentic materials, is exemplary.   He sources wrought iron of the relevant period where possible for his restoration work, thus ensuring continuity in the tradition and authenticity of the original piece.

Inevitably the passions for fencing, archery and historical metalwork combined in Hector’s repertoire as an ironworker. His expertise in the ancient techniques of blade-smithing and medieval arms and armour, have gained him international recognition. 

Hector Cole and his dedication to teaching Archery and Fencing.

Since 1968, Hector has run the weekly Malmesbury School archery (summer) and fencing (winter) clubs on a voluntary basis in his own personal time.  The children who take part in these activities have been those who find it harder to participate in team sports, but fencing and archery has allowed them to develop a sporting skill, often despite emotional or educational difficulties. Hector accepts all-comers to his clubs and will do all he can to find a ‘niche’ for children who may need a little more support than others..

He has often become a true mentor to these children, allowing them to build their self-esteem and confidence. The members of the Malmesbury School Fencing Club have achieved success at county level due to the dedicated teaching and encouragement provided by Hector.  He transports children to competitions, and has raised funds for the provision of approved equipment for the clubs.

Malmesbury School is one of very few comprehensive schools able to offer it’s pupils fencing and archery activities and is very often the only state school represented in fencing competitions due to funding constraints.  Due to the un-tiring dedication that Hector gives to his pupils and the club over the 45 years that he has run this after school clubs, hundreds of children have benefited from his knowledge and teaching skills.
He has worked voluntarily for the pure joy of transmitting his enthusiasm for these sports and their traditions and this sharing of skills keeps Hector there, rain or shine, every week to nurture and encourage these pupils.

Hector’s contribution to the continuing traditions and craft of forge work cannot be overestimated, he has brought a heartfelt enthusiasm for his subject to a wide audience, through public demonstrations of his craft, often for a nominal fee, or voluntarily, he encourages new craftsmen and women to further their skills, he imparts invaluable information gleaned from a lifetime’s work and dedication to his profession as a master blacksmith

My sisters and I would like to thank many people for their support of Hector, we could not have done this without your help!

Maurice Thompson, Blacksmith, Street Farm Forge
Lord Suffolk
William Evans
Alex Hildred at The Mary Rose
Malmesbury School

And of course all the people that have been customers of Hector's over the years and supported his work.

Thank You!!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Christmas Exhibition at The Wine Street Gallery Devizes.



Friday 21st November 2014- Saturday 31st January 2015.
 Opening times: 11 am – 4 pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday. 
11 am – 2 pm Wednesday. 
Also by appointment.
Artists: The Somerset Printmakers and Joanna Scislowicz.
Sculpture: Melissa Cole, Peter Hayes & David O’Connor.
Ceramics: Paula Downing, Sue Mundy, Sophie MacCarthy,
 Elaine Peto, Rob Sollis & Rowan Whimster.
Studio Glass:  William Shakspeare.
Address: Unit 10, White Horse Business Centre, 
Hopton Road, Devizes SN10 2HJ.

 like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/winestreetgallery. Follow us on Twitter: www.twitter.com/wine_st

Osney Lane Oxford Public Art Project Autumn 2014

Osney Lane Development - Oxford - Autumn 2014

I have been working on the two panels of the entrance wall area of this new student accommodation being built in the centre of Oxford for  Cherwell College

My name was put forward by the contractor  Exel Construction following work I did at Chapel Street in Oxford in 2013 - I think this is quite unusual as an introduction to a commission but am really pleased to have made some kind of impression on the contractors!!

Inspiration and context.

My sculptural practice involves journeys and maps and I like to include this in public works and how it might apply to the users of the space I am designing for, in this case students.  I didn’t really get inspired by the location despite the obvious history of the abbey and mill and so I tried to take a different approach to give an exciting dynamic piece that would appeal to the users of the building and passers by.

I took my inspiration for this work from ‘brain maps and pathways’.  Thinking about the student’s path of learning and the close tuition they will have with Cherwell College I researched the process of using the brain and this took me on an exciting discovery of the patterns discovered and drawn by Nobel Prize winner Santiago Ramon y Cajal.  These beautiful drawings really appealed to my process of making a journey in steel and combined with Cajal being a fantastic ‘inspiring scientist who flourished through artistic expression’, I thought this would be a brilliant starting place for the art work and hopefully create some interest for the students that use the space.

Working this idea into the available space, I studied the microscopic photographs of neurons, axons and dendrites and these formed the basis of my designs.

I intended for the panels to have a three dimensional aspect with overlapping parts and a solid body to the cell part of the design. 

The panels have been forged over the last couple of months, each one weighing in at 69 Kilos it has been hard slog!  I enjoyed the challenge of making the cell parts from sheet stock, hammering hot into an oak hollowing block I had turned by local wood turner Paul Swann 

200 hundred hours of making later I have two lovely panels to be galvanized and powder coated prior to installation in early December 2014

Sunday, 13 October 2013

BBC Radio 2! Chris Evans Breakfast Show

Goodness, I have recently been on @achrisevans on www.bbc.co.uk/radio2 breakfast show as a mystery guest!  It was a really nice surprise to talk about blacksmithing and working with your hands and I think rabbited on and I spoke for well over the allocated 3 minutes!
I had no idea how many people listed to his show and have had a fantastic response from listeners, friends and blacksmiths.  It was great to be able to speak up for the blacksmiths out there.
Thank you Bob Dylan for making some gates from welded found objects; if you hadn't done this they wouldn't have phoned me up and talked to me on air! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-24229623  I will certainly visit this exhibition and see Bob Dylan in a new light now I know we share a love  of metal!