Driven to make “junk art”
31 October 2014
By Andrea Moxham
Andrew Hall started putting together plasticine, matchsticks, playdough, potatoes and whatever he could get his hands on at the age of four. The Auckland sculptor says it’s in his genetic make-up.
Andrew, whose work has been exhibited in Auckland galleries, says that these days he picks up plastic, wood, metal and other odds and ends, putting them together with nuts and bolts, screws, clamps, wire and glue.
“There’s a force driving me,” he says. “I work spontaneously and I’m never 100 per cent sure what’s going to happen.
“My work is comedy horror. It’s shocking and funny. A lot of the stuff is twisted and hideous but it’s got a funny sort of edge to it.
“I like making things out of proportion and non- symmetrical, like a long arm with a big hand, or one short arm or three or four arms. I start off with an idea, which changes as I go. The original idea can be completely changed by the time I’ve finished.”
At the age of 23, Andrew bought a $300 welder so he could make his metal creations, creatures, monsters, muppets, mini cars and motorbikes. An inspiration is the muppet called Beaker, the assistant to the mad scientist in television’s The Muppet Show.
Featured in the Auckland Outsider Art Fair
Andrew Hall’s “junk art” or “spontaneous multidimensional assemblage” are sculptures he makes out of recycled materials. They will feature in the Auckland Outsider Art Fair on 21 to 23 November.
Stuart Shepherd , curator of the visual arts component in the Outsider Art Fair, says meeting Andrew in his workshop is one of the treats of the role.
“He makes wacky monsters and contraptions out of anything he finds. They have a heavy metal aesthetic with a goofy, surrealist, slightly macabre goth thing. So, for example, he had a little teddy bear sitting on the end of a drill machine. He turned the machine on and the bear jiggled up and down.”
One piece that Stuart particularly likes is one of Andrew’s creations exhibited in the Outsider Art Fair. It’s a big metal creature made out of an old clamp.
“It was an engineer’s clamp that had seized up and so I made it into a creature,” Andrew explains. “I have all the engineering skills to assemble my pieces. I’ve worked with engineers although I’ve never studied engineering, I am good at it. It’s a natural talent.”
Andrew’s sculptures or creatures can range from small (18 cm high) to tall (up to 1.8 metres high). “It’s quite time-consuming. It can take me from one to four hours to make a creature.
“Sometimes I’ll make something I don’t like. When that happens, I dismantle it and make it into something else.”
Assemblage workshops for children
Andrew runs assemblage workshops in West Auckland for children from five through to teenagers and adults. Sometimes the Auckland City Council employs him to hold workshops in parks, or he holds workshops at Corban Estate Arts Centre and other art centres.
“I work mainly with school kids,” he says. “We use mainly plastic and wood and stuff we can put together with nuts and bolts, screws, glue and wire. Welding is too dangerous for kids.
“I have a commission to make a big elephant, which will go at the tip near the recycling centre where they teach kids about recycling. It’s about two metres long and 1.5 metres high.
“The elephant is made out of an old refrigerator, gas bottles, corrugated iron and a tanalised post. The post is like a telephone pole which will be chopped into legs.”
Andrew has won various awards and prizes for his sculptures over the years. A solo father, he received a certificate in 2008 signed by the Ministry of Social Development and the Waitakere Mayor for Focus on Fathering Week.
“When the kids get older and I have more time, I’d like to spend it in the workshop producing art,” he says.