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Radiolarian art in steel

By Alan Ross

Twenty years ago I was between hobbies and needed stimulation, so my wife booked me on a night class in basic welding to get me out of the way. I was not too bothered but realised that I was being sent.
I lit my gas torch and knew instantly that this what I needed to. Weird life changing moment. I then started dabbling with sculpture making rough ornaments for friends gardens and my skills grew until I was making a part time living from it. I then packed in my day job. The plankton thing happened by accident. I grew up watching Jacques Cousteau on TV as a kid and it left with a 'thing' about the oceans. I had dabbled in sculptures of fish, and while browsing the internet I kept coming across images of plankton, mostly the work of who else but Ernst Haeckel but also a lot of scanning electron microscope images. I always put interesting pictures on my 'Inspiration Wall' so that I see them everyday and seem to think about them in my subconscious. I had a picture of a Saddle Diatom that kept coming back to bother me. Then one day the shape suddenly unravelled in my head to show it's shape as a two dimensional projection. Weird.
I abandoned what I was doing and got started, no drawings or measurements. And amazingly five days later I had made it, no pile of rejected components. What I always think of as my first real piece of 'Art'. I took it outside and had my head messed with as I realised what I had made, and how from every angle it looks like a different thing. I dont know how it happened but felt very privileged to been able to make it. I was quite upset when it sold last year.

Anyway, that set me off and I spent more time looking at plankton, Radiolaria especially. I struggle to think of 'abstract' but these forms allow me to be in touch with abstract and yet be figurative at the same time. They also appeal to my lifelong obesssion with pattern, repetition and symetry (in music see Steve Reich). My second plankton piece is based loosely on Haeckel's drawings of Lamprocylas. I hope that people with an understanding of the subject might recognise it. This was also my first attempt at kinetic art, it was supposed to be able to gently sway when given a push. The actual movement was another fluke.

I can see these two being the start of a long running series, I am currently finalising ideas for the next one but it might take some time due to commission work getting in the way.

For more info: http://www.artinsteel.co.uk