Metalwork in Sheffield

Johnny White - Mechanical Sculptor

In addition to reading this interview, you can also watch video interviews  with Johnny White  and other local metalwork artists in the video gallery of this resource.

Q. Can you give me a brief description of your work/skills?

I make sculptures and installations, mostly in steel and stainless steel, often involving kinetic elements and/or using light.

For some time now the Public Art and education projects I have been involved with have run alongside my personal gallery work, over the last 5 years or so the boundaries between these elements has blurred considerably as the projects I have been asked to become involved with have got more and more interesting and often involved recycled and kinetic elements which I love to work with.

Q. How long have you been doing it and how did you start?

I made my first kinetic sculpture in 1984 after I saw the work of Jim Whiting, and shortly after that Jean Tinguely a year or so before, prior to that I had been making predominantly ceramic sculptures.

Q. What opportunities do you think there are for people wanting to work in the metalwork industry in this region?

For artists starting out I think getting involved in education projects offers a good way of employing one's skills while managing to earn some money. Also I think that getting into a studio group is good.

Q. Have you any words of wisdom for people wanting to start work as a Mechanical sculptor?

Just stick with it really, even if you’re trying to make stuff in someone's garage or whatever, just try to get stuff made and get it on exhibition. Things lead on to other things in ways you cannot anticipate. For example I had an exhibition at Wolverhampton, this luckily got reviewed in The Guardian, which led to some curators from Brighton coming to see it and meet me. 

They liked the show a lot and took it to Brighton where someone from Silkeborg in Denmark saw it and contacted me to exhibit there. The offer of an exhibition led to a grant from the Arts Council to get the show over there.

Images on this page: © Sheffield Hallam University

For more information on these artworks and others visit the  Sheffield Public Art Index website (see link below).

View other relevant My Learning resources or see the teachers' notes page for discussion and activity ideas. 

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