Metal sculptor, Glen Colechin has come to his chosen medium by way of his engineering background.  Two years ago, when faced with redundancy he reviewed his options and with the encouragement of Janelle, his wife, launched himself as a fulltime sculptor and artist.

It’s a brave move for those seeking to make a living exclusively from their art making in New Zealand with its small population, especially as his name wasn’t well known within the artist and gallery community. It has required working very hard to promote his work across social media and through exhibiting opportunities while getting out sourcing materials and then building his creative forms. Through his social marketing he has found buyers from around the world and his work now resides in the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

Over the years Colechin has used a wide range of self-taught skills to work with all kinds of stone, recycled timber and metal in creating his arresting figurative sculptures. For this exhibition Colechin is refocusing his attention on recycled copper and letting the copper do the work. 

His work is evolving, and this new series of large recycled copper discs show the results of experimentation with surface treatments, discovering the chemical reactions that occur by applying various oxidizing liquids that etch and move to produce beautiful coloured patinas, creating exciting patterns. These include vinegar, ammonia and even the application of seaweed that he collects from the beach.

“I feel like a chemist testing these various acids and oxidants that produce amazingly different colours when applied with heat to grow the patina. I give it time to emerge as it develops and grows, it’s like a living piece of art really,” he says. In the movement of these liquids he sees suggestions of water in the rivulets, raindrops and waves, hence the exhibition’s title, ‘The Shape of Water’. “I’m really enjoying doing this and I’m going to carry on with this exciting process.”

Glen sources materials from recycling plants and construction businesses for items he can transform into beautiful works of art. “I see shapes in materials and think how it will form part of a subject I want to create,” Glen describes. “Some things can take a year to manifest, but they all slot into place eventually.”

Being an innovative craftsman fits comfortably with Glen Colechin’s engineering background. With a past career in product design and production engineering, he has a sound foundation of skills that drive his creative core. “Art is everywhere,” he says. “You need that creative eye to see it and it’s also what makes me a good engineer.”

The Shape of Water — 24 September to 7 October at Creative Arts Napier, 16 Byron Street.

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