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Publications > Çelik Yapılar
Sayı: 76 - Mayıs / Haziran 2022

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THE SCULPTURE THAT BRINGS LIFE TO STEEL



Andy Scott is one of the most important sculptors of the world with his many works, especially "The Kelpies" who frequently uses steel in his works. We spoke with him about his understanding of art and his perspective on steel.
First of all, could you introduce yourself and mention about your story from your childhood up to making a career as an artist? Was the being sculpturer your childhood dream?

I am a professional sculptor from Glasgow, Scotland and now live in the USA. My wife and I moved here five years ago originally to Philadelphia. We have now moved across country to Los Angeles where we will establish a new studio. From an early age I knew I wanted to be an artist, but it wasn’t until my studies at Glasgow School of Art, from 1982 – 87 that I decided sculpture would be my preferred discipline to work in.



We see that you generally use steel in your works. Could we learn the reason of this?

I studied steel sculpture at art school, mostly abstract work but changed to figurative style of sculpture-making. My interest in steel within that genre grew from making welded steel armatures to support clay, which I modelled before casting into a finished material. Those steel armatures became more complex over the years and I eventually decided that perhaps the steel itself could become the finished sculpture material.



My original steel sculptures were very linear, three dimensional drawings made of welded steel round bar, but eventually I became more interested in the welded steel plate style which is now my main artistic expression. Steel is a reasonably priced material which has longevity once coated (unless stainless of course), and the way I use it has an inherent structural stability.



It Was My DecIsıon To Use Steel In My Works



How has the Glasgow School of Art influenced your development as an artist? Has the school given any training and encourage you to use steel as an art material?

Glasgow School of Art influenced me greatly as an artist. The main building of the school was an Art Nouveau masterpiece designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and I’d say every student there was transformed by the ambience and history of such an incredible building. (Sadly it was destroyed by fires in 2014 & 2018. Years later I was commissioned to create a memorial statue to the building’s designer which was a real honour.)



In terms of the education at GSA I taught myself most of what I now do in terms of sculptural aesthetics and design. You could say it is an intuitive way of working. The art school technician did teach me the basics of welding though, and for that I am very grateful. The tutors did not particularly guide me towards steel, that was a decision I made myself. I think I was drawn to the physicality of the material, its resonance with the industrial heritage of my home city and my own work ethic.



I have invented my own mythology



We see that you are influenced by mythological figures in your works. The Kelpies is a world-renowned work. What have you wanted to explain in your work? Also, how does mythology feed you in terms of creativity?

The rationale behind the sculptures often comes through dialogue with the client, or through research of the sculpture’s intended area: the history, geography, local society etc. This was the case with The Kelpies. My client, Scottish Canals, gave me the title of the kelpies as a starting point. I then developed ideas which took that title towards a more historical reference to the working horses of central Scotland.



The mythological kelpies belonged to the lochs and glens of Scotland’s Highlands, which is beautiful countryside but has no real relationship to the canals and industrial towns of the centre of the country. I really wanted to celebrate the great horses of Scotland, the magnificent Clydesdales which would once have worked in the fields and factories and pulled barges along the canal where the giant sculptures are sited. The public seem to enjoy the artworks’ resonance with both the mythical and the historical aspects, as well as the artistry combined with engineering.



Generally I find the concepts and stories of mythology are a rich vein of narrative and inspiring creatures which seem to strike a chord with the clients and audiences. In some cases I have invented my own mythology by combining elements figures and symbols to tell a story.



Besides your works inspired by mythology, you are also widely known in the sports world. Two different areas. What kind of reactions do you get, especially from football fans?

Working for a football club is different from most projects. Not only do you have to create a sculpture which has a likeness to the person being celebrated, you have to deal with the expectations of the fans, as well as the management of the club and of course the players themselves (or their families). It can be very challenging but I am pleased to say the response has been very favourable.



With the football-based projects I had to pay close attention to small details. The fans can be obsessive about the strip the club crest, which style of boots a certain player wore at a certain time. Those details show that I have studied the subject closely and want every aspect to be correct.



You have combined steel and art with football. What has it brought you to combine so many different fields?

I simply responded to enquiries from the clubs. My work was quite well-known and I think the club liked what they saw on-line, contacted us and asked us to submit designs. I am a football fan so there was no question it would be a project I wanted to do. My sculptures for Glasgow Rangers were traditional bronze statues, however for the recent Manchester City project, we decided to propose the sculptures should be created in steel.



This was a big gamble on our behalf as no other football club has commissioned steel figurative statuary (as far as I know). I am pleased to say the concept was very well received by the stadium management at the club who showed great courage in selecting such an unusual material for the three statues at The Etihad. It was an incredible honour to create the statues of players Vincent Kompany, David Silva and Sergio Aguero. Those payers are so good they admired by football fans well beyond the followers of MCFC.



Manchester City won another very special championship in 2021-2022. We read comments that statues bring good luck. Do you have a sculpture project related to the championship?

I have not yet been approached by Manchester City specifically regarding them winning the Premier League. I don’t know if I will work for them again but I certainly hope so. They were a great organisation to work for and although it was very challenging and difficult project the response has been fantastic. I have also read that the fans think the statues bring good luck, and one of our client team at MCFC told us that fans rub the toe of Vincent Kompany’s welded steel boots for good luck – a good modern myth!



I would be happy to work on a project in Turkey



Will you have a project about Turkey in the future? If you wanted to do a study in Turkey, what would it be about?

I would be really delighted to do a project in Turkey. I have to confess I have not visited your country yet but would love to spend time there. As most of my work responds to requests from clients, I can only say I hope some day a property developer, museum, a sculpture collector or perhaps even a football club will contact me in future. I know I would dream up something amazing which suited the location, the people and the heritage of the country. Who knows what the future holds!



We believe that an architect can create any form of structures by using steel. What do you think about it?

I am sure this is the case. Using contemporary technology and steel working equipment almost anything seems possible. One needs only to look at modern bridge, stadiums, museums and skyscrapers etc to get a glimpse of what is possible. As a sculptor my approach is much more crafted, and I know that I could certainly find a way to create incredible sculptures of any form…. I just need the client with the imagination and budget to bring the visions to reality.



Is there anything you want to add?


SI’d like to add that I do not work as a solo artist in a vacuum. I think it is very important to credit the teams who work with me to create my public sculptures. This can involve project managers, engineers, architects, landscape architects, studio assistants, lighting designers, and of course the steel suppliers and coatings companies who galvanize my works.



To continue the football analogy I sometimes think I am like the centre-forward who scores the winning goal to win the trophy. Although I design the concept and do most of the sculpting myself, it takes a whole team to get to the final!



It has been a pleasure chatting with you this way and thank you for your interest in my practice.


Çelik Yapılar - Sayı: 76 - Mayıs / Haziran 2022

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