This is an article on my work published in Total Hospitality Magazine 2009
To read the article please cut and paste the link below into your browser. The article is in issue 37 of the magazine archives and you need to scroll to page 35 to read about my 'Creative Energies'
Many thanks to Gill Anderson and her fantastic team at Total Hospitality for covering my work.
Total Hospitality Magazine
Jake Howard is a normal, well-grounded chap who seems to know what he wants from life.
Oh, and he’s also an exceptional artist, who, quite by chance has Damien Hirst for a neighbour (although he’s quick to point out that they don’t know one another socially!).
Howard started out as a welder, but his obvious talents couldn’t be kept down. The modest creator gives much of the credit for getting started to others: ‘I started to create art from metal for several reasons. First and foremost, metal is what I have always worked with from a young lad, so when I had a burning desire to let my creativity flow, it seemed like the simplest choice for me really. I was egged on by my partner Kerrie, who was astounded by the colours that are created within a weld of metal. I also had support from a local artist, Steve Bonds, who really inspired me to start using metal as an alternative medium to most of what was for sale on the Internet at the time.’
Howard, who has had no formal training, has a natural affinity for the material he uses. He explains: ‘It’s rare that I work in other mediums, but it has been known!’ he smiles. ‘I sometimes make sculptural forms that will deteriorate quickly over time - like on the beach from sand, or in the woods from a pile of logs as an alternative to the metal sculptures that will last forever. It has also been known for me to occasionally dip my fingers in paint and produce an acrylic canvas or two, but essentially its metal all the way for me.’ Howard works from home, having carved a small slice of heaven out of the Devon countryside for himself and his family. ‘My studio is perched on stilts on the side of a very steep valley in Devon. It is very ‘studio’’, he laughs, ‘as it is home-based and just outside my back door! It butts onto a small woodland and is a nice distance from the road, so it’s an idyllic little spot to create and remain undisturbed in. To give you and idea of how high up I am, when I look outside, I am at eye level with the local buzzards as they climb on the thermals, I also look down on the tree tops and its such a nice perspective to be in. Down to practicalities though. How can you create vast sculptures in a stilted studio? ‘I have the use of a fully equipped metal fabrication workshop at my fingertips, as sometimes commissions can be a little too large for my studio!
Sometimes a customer might want five or six artworks all at once, and it’s easier to spread myself out in an industrial environment for jobs like that. My preference though, is working at home, stuck on the side of the hill!’ When it comes to inspiration, one look at his portfolio will give a heavy hint to his love of space and the planets, but he’s also able to incorporate a wide variety of natural elements. ‘I find inspiration for my work from all of the natural elements, unknown or unexplained phenomena, from space and the deep sea. ‘When I was a child I used to have very vivid and strange dreams, so sometimes these memories can also act as inspiration for me. Of course, my children and life partner, Kerrie - and the things that we discuss and do on a day- to-day basis - all help me to form ideas. ‘Most of them start of life in one form or another on a sketchpad or scrap of paper that is handy at the time. I do manage to stick to the plan most of the time, occasionally though the initial design is not the end result, as I change my mind half way through! Sometimes, I’ll build straight from my head like with Stinging Steel (a metal scorpion). That was the first ever 3D sculpture that I made - straight out of my head, no sketches, models or anything like that, just pieces built piece by piece from scratch. Each method has its pluses and minuses’!
Although Howard obviously enjoys what he does, he’s realistic about his chosen career path. ‘Metal is great to work with for me, as I have a natural affinity with it. It just feels like part of me. I know how to get the best from it, how to form it well and make it perform how I want it to! This being said, it is a very hard material to work with and manipulate. It’s relentless and takes no prisoners, so you have to be very careful when you work with it – one slip and you could cut yourself badly so safety is always a big aspect when working with metal. There is also the down side of the fumes and you have to wear visors, masks and heavy aprons – things to protect your body, eyes and lungs. ‘But the end results in my opinion, are well worth it for the finish you can create, and for the mutability of the material and the durability of the work created. ‘Paint, in my mind is OK, but it flakes, it’s not so vibrant as it fades and dulls easily, it chips and you can’t form it in the way I like to form metal. Wood is good too, but far too soft – and to be frank, way too simple to be a challenge for my art form. It makes a fantastic medium to display alongside my metalwork though!’
And another little mention from total hospitality about my bespoke service for unique creations issue no 38 page 31
Top Sculptor Makes TV Appearance.
By Joel Cooper
A Welder from Combe Martin who discovered his arty side has just had his sculptures featured on channel 4s Richard and Judy show.
Jake Howard who runs sculpture company ArtsApart from his home in Withycombe, had his 3d sculptures in a feature on the show all about brightening up your garden in the midst's of the credit crunch. As well as being hosted by TV'S most famous couple Richard & Judy, Jake was also tipped for future success by renowned designer specialist, Laurence LLewelwy Bowen. Jake , who has been in the sculpture business for around five years said "it was great seeing my work on TV and very humbling to be praised by Laurence " "researchers on the show found my work on our website and emailed to ask if I would be happy to feature on the show. " of course I said yes and the show went out live on Tuesday the fifth of August."
The shows producers also invited Jake and his partner Kerrie White, who runs the business side of the company up to watch the show. Jake said: "after the show we had a mini party where we got to chat to all the shows guests as well as Richard and Judy themselves. " They were really nice people and the whole experience was amazing. "
Jake left school to become a welder at the age of 16 and believes he got his artistic tendencies from his mother. Jake said: " My mum was a keen painter and used to hand draw housing plans for the council before they had computers. " When I left school I got a job welding planes and submarines for the Army and this is where I learned my skill for detail. "After that I had another welding job at a factory where they would give me the keys to the workshop in case I needed to catch up with anything in my own time. " I used this opportunity to make the most of the workshop and experiment with the tools and materials that they had to offer." Jake partner and business associate, Kerrie, added: "our house is just across the valley from Damien Hirsts so whenever we look outside our window we have something to aspire to." For more information about Jakes work visit www.ArtsApart.co uk
ARTIST OF THE MONTH
Man of Steel
Artist of the Month
From welding intricate parts for British Aerospace to taking the art world by storm, _Jake Howard has a steely resolve to make his mark as
a sculptor. Andrea had a real lesson in metallurgy as she discovered the artist, working with unforgiving stainless steel, who was also an
iron man body builder.
If its dichotomy or irony you seek in an artwork, look no further than Jake Howard’s steel butterfly. Now on show at Broomhill Art hotels gallery as part of the North Devon Arts annual exhibition, this exquisite creature looks as though she might take off at any moment, with her highly polished, glistening wings apparently quivering. But they're not. Because actually this super bug weighs three kilos. What animates her is the viewer's movement, altering her multi-faceted reflections by throwing back the varying colours of the room - and the viewer. Stand still to observe her, and confront a fear akin to the one Hitchcock conjured in his film The birds.
Jake's mastery is in creating butterfly's delicacy from a painstaking process of building innumerable tiny parts from a medium we ordinarily associate with cars and fridges. Each piece of steel is individually cut and soldered together with a tig welding process.
Luckily for Jake, he was once a semi-professional body builder for 15 years at a London gym and to cut steel without a plasma cutter means he needs all the strength he can muster. He said: "Ideally I need to be able to sell my work or bring in work from elsewhere to be able to buy specialist equipment like plasma cutters, because it would make my job like a breath of fresh air; I normally use grinders so you’re talking lots of noise, lots of dust - and shears .....breaking my hands and knuckles with shears..." But Jake draws upon his body building past not just for strength, but for the subject of The Winner, where a stylized steel figure is clearly pummeling every effort to being first to cross the winning line.
Demoralized by the hush hush acceptance of substance abuse in the world of competitive body building, he said of the figure, which rests on a see-saw: "He's tipping the scales, which I suppose is what you have to do to win..." But this was said with a dark twist of irony where his own body building career was concerned. He wanted to become professional - but refused to cross the line and take drugs to succeed.
He shrugs his disappointment off, though, remembering a book he recently read about Van Gough. "Lust for Life - that was really interesting reading from an artist's mind. It was a struggle to keep going at his art at all odds, when he had to pay bills and to eat..he had to struggle...." Jake's own struggles happen in a 12ft x 8ft shed at the bottom of the garden where he laughed as he said his geese believe the visor he wears for welding is a beak.
A Combe Martin resident and a postman he has an optimistic streak a mile wide: “I think being a postman is certainly a job for artists because of finishing so early. I just come home and do my work until I feel I can’t cope with it any more that day."
He modestly attributed his artistry to his mentor Brian, who taught him at British Aerospace from the age of 15. "Brian Porter, I think his name was,” Jake said. "He'd been welding for 50 - odd years, and he was just a super welder - the best I have ever seen."
Jake's transition from industry to art occurred when he was working for a local company. What began as an inside joke among the staff prompted him to see creative opportunities, as he welded details (including his own name) into parts being shipped to build the Millennium Dome in London. This soon inspired his imagination to experiment further.
"It is no different, Andrea from any other welding, really, except that you use a tungsten electrode instead of a wire feed or an arc rod” Well sorry Jake - but we beg to differ: Your welding technique is in a league of its own, not only in butterfly, but in your first sculpture, Stinging Steel. This imposing creature is a scorpion, and was a gift to his partner Kerrie, whose star sign is Scorpio. Jake's initiation into the art world Has been well supported, not only by Kerrie, but by other members of North Devon Arts, including Liz Willis.
He said he was not so much nervous as frazzled about "coming out" and showing his work in a gallery. In terms of meeting the deadline for his first submission, he said "I didn’t want to be pushed, but I was being pushed to a date. Other than that I wasn't really nervous....I think probably because I was so stressed out getting to that point that I didn’t have any feelings left - I was worn out!" But in truth Jake has abundant energy for his work. He said:"I want to spend my time making more sculptures.... The ideas keep popping out, I’ve got them in a book, and I do feel quite threatened sometimes that I’m not going to have enough time to make them all..." Tantalisingly, Jake said the sculpture he is most proud of to date is not quite ready to be shown. But its 11 feet high and called how many men? Go on then tell us! He said: "It's purely a bit of fun - it’s a ladder and it has 10 men climbing up in different stances, and at the top they are changing a light bulb...." And he added: “The Sculptures for the future will be improved - I intend to blind people." Fortunately we know what he means by this, and can see his work at Broomhill 28th.
The first time he has submitted work to an exhibition, it clearly wont be his last, and it's rather apt then that the North Devon Arts show is called New Year New Work - and the group has helped to launch a new artist in the area. Jake works to commission, and is actively seeking to make partnerships with local schools or become involved in community arts projects. Moreover, he’d be grateful for off cuts of surplus stainless steel from any local businesses.
I would like to give a big thank you to Mr Gerald Bray who is a great supporter of my work and a local company called SFL who help to make all this possible for me.