In the hands of artist Brian Mock, old spoons, auto parts and other scrap metal are born again as hounds, roosters, hedgehogs and more.
There is arguably no dearth of artists experimenting with recycled materials these days, but there’s always room for one more. Brian Mock from Beavertown, USA, is one such artist who collects scrap metal from junkyards and converts them into invigorating works of art that literally transform the spaces where they stand.
What defines Brian’s style and sets his sculptures apart from the rest is his dimensional precision and acute attention to detail. His neatness and fluidity of form often give the impression that the several metallic components of each sculpture were made to order. But that is hardly the case.
Brian uses only discarded metal pieces and goes to great lengths to collect these from auto and machine shops. In the last 15 years, he has carefully established connections with people who have access to such scrap. Sometimes he picks scrap based on a design idea in his mind; other times the scrap sets him thinking down a new path.
Interestingly, Brian has had no formal training in art and explains his foray into sculpting by saying, “I’ve always been a resourceful person, so using material that was already abundantly available naturally appealed to me.” As a child, the artist gave vent to his artistic streak through drawings, and later on with paintings, wood carving and wood crafting, but admits he discovered his métier only after working with scrap metal.
Although he still reserves a fondness for traditional art media, scrap metal art has him thoroughly captivated. He states, “I am intrigued by the challenge of creating an entirely unique piece of art from a random collection of discarded and often commonplace objects. Giving these old, ordinary items a new and extraordinary life as a sculpture is an artistically demanding, yet gratifying process.”
Where most people would despair at the sight of an overflowing scrap yard or landfill, Brian’s reaction is expectedly exuberant. “Seeing any available scrap metal excites me because I’m always seeing the potential of what it can become,” he explains. It’s fair to say that artists like Brian are beginning to inspire laypeople to look at their old, unused and broken possessions in new and creative ways.
Brian’s creativity with scrap has earned him adulation as well as commissions from private and public enterprises that often want an unusual, striking work of art or are eager to make a statement about creativity and the environment.
Referring to his art, Brian confesses that there is no hidden agenda or subtext. “When I’m creating, I’m honestly not thinking about making a specific statement; the process is so natural it almost comes with no thought at all. Creating brings me joy, and I just hope that my creations bring others joy, too.”
When working on a commission, Brian starts off by discussing the idea with a client before drawing up a budget and time-frame. The autodidactic artist says, “I might draft a few sketches initially and then I just start the sculpting process.”
Depending on the size and complexity of the piece, it can take anywhere from an hour to six months to create a single artwork. “There’s really no average because each sculpture is so uniquely individual,” adds Brian. The largest sculpture he’s done so far is of two jumping salmons. That was a whopping 10 feet tall sculpture and weighed approximately 400 lbs.
At Hotel Zetta in San Francisco, nearly every visitor must have stroked or at least been tempted to stroke Brian’s sleek metal hound that stands at attention at the hotel’s lobby. The animal likeness is impressive. Brian says, “I’d like to think that my style is uniquely my own. I’ve never studied other people’s art, and my personal and professional goal is to be completely original in everything I create.”
Looking to the future, the artist says he’s now keen to try animals he hasn’t done before while continuing to work on different breeds of dogs, since dogs do tend to be an ever popular theme.
Text By Christabelle Athaide
Photographs Brian Mock