Studio Conversation with Jamie King

Jamie, you are an ESW member, and you are here today to do some metal work. 

Yes, I’ve been working with metal for the past two years now. I’ve been part of a few exhibitions for the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival.

I’ve seen some of your paintings on your website. 

I have to say, my painting… I’m not very happy with it. It doesn’t bring me much joy at all. Whereas on the other hand, I find making sculptures very enjoyable. It’s a good thing to do, to engage your brain with even measuring and cutting and the whole process. I think that is very satisfying.

Making a thing.

Making a thing, a 3D object, that’s quite interesting to challenge yourself and think out of the box. And rather than standing at an easel and painting, I don’t know. I wouldn’t say I was very advanced with it, I’m probably at a beginner’s stage, but it’s exciting, though. I do enjoy chatting to the technicians and other artists. The last exhibition I had, one of the pieces was quite unusual. I made a conical shape to go on top of this sphere – it was a metal sphere that I got serendipitously from a fellow artist at the sculpture workshop. So, I added that into the piece and it’s been an organic growth that’s keeps growing and I hope that never stops. But for the next exhibition I have to think about things again and see what I can do. Also, I have limitations, financially I’m not well off. I’m on benefits and financially I find things quite restricting, but I can work around that and hopefully I can keep advancing and keep growing and making new work.

Do you have a favorite metal to work with? 

Only sheet, I like steel. I haven’t worked with bronze at all because obviously that’s a totally new ball game for me. I would have to speak to the technicians about that. But I’m sure that in the future I possibly might be able to work with bronze casting and see how we get on with that. I have got some ideas of what I’d like to do in that regard, but they’re very basic at the moment. For now, I do like the tactility of working with sheet steel. It can be used in different ways and to make different structures and forms. It’s interesting to do that through welding, I find that very satisfying.

And now you work on a new installation, you have loads of cones there. 

Yes, I do. I’m working on an exhibition which I’m having at the end of May into the beginning of June so, hopefully, I’ll manage to get everything done in time for then. I seem to be on good track, time wise, so it seems to be working out quite well.

What is the exhibition about? 

Well, it’s a continuation of a theme from the previous two exhibitions, one at St Margaret’s House and one at Summerhall, both mental health exhibitions. I was very honored to be part of that. Summerhall is a very, very challenging place, in a good way, because there are some very prestigious artists, and it’s good to engage with them and try and understand some of the things they say to me, which is all very helpful and intuitive. It’s a great place to be, and I’m quite honored to have that experience.

Are you going to build up one piece or an installation? 

It’ll be an installation, so hopefully I can get in the gallery and set up it the way I like. Aesthetically it looks good, but I’ll see how I get on with that, I have some fixed plans on how to arrange it so I’ve done a lot of drawing in that regard.

What are you going to do today, you came with a plan. 

Today I’m going to be making a round piece of steel, so we’re using the roller, but I’ll be getting help with that. I haven’t used the roller on my own. And then welding it so that it can be a centre piece of the installation.

Do you have something in your mind, an object or installation that you are thinking for the future?

There is actually, there is something. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but I do have some strong ideas about what I’d like to do, and it will hopefully involve casting, which I’ve never done before, but I have some ideas which I will discuss with the technicians to see how those ideas can come to fruition.

Did you work before in any similar kind of workshops?

When I was a young man, I was an apprentice fabrication welder in a heavy engineering situation. So, yeah, I was. I worked there for about a year and a half, so, not for a long period of time, but I did learn how to weld. But I find it exhausting. Even an afternoon in the sculpture workshop, it’s really quite heavy work when you’re working with metal. And you’re welding, cutting, tightening, grinding and it’s very physical so, I do find that exhausting.

But rewarding enough to come back. 

Yes, rewarding enough to come back.



Studio conversation with ESW member Jamie King, April 2023