Animal attraction informs artworks


An appreciation of anatomy and a love of animals are central to the craft of a Wanaka sculptor.
Adam Humphreys transforms tubes of steel into dynamic sculptures that look poised in mid-action.
Growing up on a farm in Wales in the United Kingdom, he had no idea he would become a working artist, Humphreys said.
After leaving school he began working in forestry for his family, but instead of using his chainsaw simply to cut trees into standard lengths of wood, he began ‘‘turning the trees into shapes’’.
‘‘It probably annoyed my father at the time, but I didn’t realise it was the beginning of a career.’’
His creative use of a chainsaw grew and became a ‘‘stepping stone’’ to carving, often of dynamic sculptures of horses.
There was a ‘‘lightbulb moment’’ while he was working on a farm in Australia in his early 20s.
The farm also featured an art gallery — ‘‘they very kindly gave me my first exhibition’’ — and that was when he realised he could make a living from his art.
More recently he has begun working with metal instead of wood — ‘‘they are two wonderfully contrasting ideas’’.
Instead of chipping away at wood with a chainsaw he was adding elements in steel.
The challenges of hitchhiking was part of the reason totry working in steel instead of wood.
‘‘Since travelling, it turns out it is quite hard to carry a chainsaw around with you, and no-one picks you up if you’ve got a chainsaw in one hand and a can of petrol in the other.’’
Instead he began dropping in at different farms to borrow a welder and experimented creating steel sculptures.
He has developed a unique style, informed by studying animal anatomy and movement and which often involves creating a ‘‘skeleton’’ out of tubes of steel and then building a ‘‘skin’’ of steel elements around it.
‘‘I’m constantly trying to capture movement.’’
Instead of studying art ‘‘I studied animals and I studied my surroundings’’.

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