Mystery artist finally revealed

I thought it might be nice to share something I found delightful.

Near to my home in Scotland, a mystery sculptor has been at work. The sculptor’s work includes a seal, a Viking boat, fishing boats and a lighthouse.

The pieces around Stonehaven bay, in the north east of Scotland, are wonderful. But what makes them even more special is the identity of the artist is a mystery!

Local residents have no idea who the sculptor is, or why these pieces have appeared in the area. He, or perhaps a ‘she’, has been nicknamed the ‘Stonehaven Banksy’.

The sculptures have appeared in the bay over the last few years, delighting locals and visitors to the area. The skillful welding and the creativity could be the work of a well-trained metal-worker. Or, could it?

The BBC has finally been able to track down the mystery artist. Jim Malcolm worked much of his adult life at sea, on fishing boat, before retiring three years ago to become a welder. He has been honing his skills since then.

Jim told the BBC that his work just “evolves”. He said: “I never know what I’m doing until I’m finished. I am not an artist, just a guy who sticks metal together.

“I make sculptures for the simple fact that I enjoy doing it. I never draw the piece, I just make it up as I go along.

“People have been trying to find out who I am for a while now.”

Jim made headline news when his identity was finally discovered.

I think his pieces are wonderful. You can really see his life-long affinity with the sea coming through in his artistic work.

Well done Jim. He is an inspiration to all who want to take up art and sculpting. Hopefully he will have many more years as an artist, albeit one that we now know and recognise.

Inspiration from tin mining

My inspiration for the piece Striking tin came from research I carried out about tin mining in Cornwall. Pewter is made from about 95% tin, so I thought it was a nice idea to create a piece that explored the roots of tin.

Tin mining in Cornwall and Devon, in the south west of England, began during the Bronze Age, around 2150 BCE. The last mine closed in Cornwall in 1998. Tin is one of the earliest metals to have been exploited in Britain and it is thought that mines in Cornwall and Devon held the best deposits in Europe.

Early metal workers discovered that by putting a small amount of tin (about 20%) into molten copper, the alloy bronze was produced. The south west of England became very popular during the Bronze Age because tin was used for creating bronze weapons.

The vast tin resources in Britain may have been the reason the Romans invaded.

In 1305, King Edward I established tin regions in Devon and Cornwall. The minerals extracted from deep within the mines were combined with peat and the molten metal was then poured into granite moulds to produce ingots of tin.

The Cornish Rebellion of 1497 originated among Cornish tin miners, who opposed the raising of taxes by King Henry VII, to pay for war on Scotland. The miners amassed an army of 15,000 people and they marched towards London. However, they were defeated at the Battle of Deptford Bridge on the 17 June 1497.

The 16th century saw a massive increase in tin production, which continued through to the 19th century. However, tin from overseas mines started to depress the market and many mines in Devon and Cornwall started to close.

Dolcoath mine in Cornwall, nicknamed the Queen of Mines, was 3,500 feet deep, and was the deepest mine in the world. It closed in 1921.

Mining was dangerous work. In 1846, 39 men were killed by a sudden flood at East Wheal Rose mine, while 12 men were killed in 1883 when a cage fell down a shaft at the Wheal Agar mine in Cornwall.

The Poldark Mine, near to Helston in Cornwall, is now a tourist attraction. It features a guided tour through the mine’s workings, a museum and gardens. Part of Devon and Cornwall have been designated a World Heritage Site.

I wanted to create a piece that depicted tin mining. I envisaged a great ‘thumbs up’ from mine owners when they discovered seams of tin from the caverns deep underground.

This picture is a mixed-media work; acrylic on canvas and it features a one-off cast of a pewter sculpture.