|David:||Where did you aquire your skills?|
|Lee:||I'm a time served aircraft toolmaker, with 20 years experience in the industry. I Have always had what seems to be a natural talent (if there is such a thing) for making stuff. My father contributed massively to my early development providing me with basic engineering tuition - knocking up birds nesting boxes, bike repairs etc.|
|David:||Is your father the only one who taught you early on?|
|Lee:||Mainly, his brother (my late uncle Jim) used to make guns. Although I only spent a few minutes with him every few months. His craft was so up my street, fleeting comments he would make about how to cut such and such a profile on a gun barrel or just drilling holes productively stayed with me to this day.|
|David:||And in your adult life who do you currently look up to, with a creative bias?|
|Lee:||Yeah, I met this guy by the name of Paul Carlton who ironically lived a few doors away. It was only just before I moved to london from Hull that we met even though I had lived as his neighbour for 7 years. I always feel aroused when I meet someone who as an artist, can what I call "freeform".|
|David:||How do you define freeforming?|
|Lee:||Well, I (as does Paul) use jigs and tools to assist the creative process. A terse example of this would be to use a straight edge to cut card with a blade. The straightness of the rule edge has now been transferred to the card. By the same token guides, templates and various patterns can be combined with cutting tools and machines to produce a fantastic range of shapes in any material.
The likes of Paul can take a piece of modelling clay and make it look like someone off a photo. This to me is freeform. It's like a good painter; they don't need guides or patterns to put an awesome image on canvas with pigments. It's all done by eye and the imagination. Paul seriously enchanted me. He can make the machines and tools that I mentioned that are essential to the manufacturing process and then use them to build products like an airbrush which out perform anything on the market. Not only that but he can paint like an epson printer! He also sings and writes music, just to rub it in!
|David:||He sounds like a modern day Da Vinci!|
|Lee:||Yeah he is just that, and he professes to be. But I do acknowledge the very real feasibility of it.|
|David:||Who do you hold in the highest regard as an achiever?|
|Lee:||I do seek happiness and fulfilment and all the sensible stuff. Whether Damien Hirst has all that, who knows?|
|David:||So you aspire to be a Damien Hirst?|
|Lee:||Yes I suppose so, probably more a Jeff Koons. It so pisses me off listening to the endless conversations most of which are born of envy. "What makes pickling sharks art" etc. These people should be inspired by the Hirsts of this world. If I would have been told at school, you can present just about anything you can find, junk or otherwise, develop a story around it then sell it for a six figure sum. Is this a career you would fancy?........ I think so. Not that I suggest Damien Hirst uses junk to project his concepts. I have always found his work "intriging" and more recently quite beautiful. I think he has the ultimate career; he gets other people to make his work then sells it for millions and he probably gets off on what he produces. (does that sound repugnant!?)|
|David:||So you're pursuing wealth then?|
|Lee:||I suppose so. I see the desire to have money as a bit of a distraction.|
|David:||How do you mean?|
|Lee:||Well, if you could stabilize the desire somewhat by getting it instead of pursuing it you could focus on the more important things in life, though I doubt it's that simple.|
|David:||Is this how you justify the £25,000 price tag for your work?|
|Lee:||You're referring to the Ripple series?|
|David:||Yes, the ones here that look like like droplets in mercury.|
|Lee:||The mark ups on these are actually sensibly proportionate. To carve a contoured surface into a material which will then take a high degree of polishing, leaves us with one or two options. The option I chose makes use of 3D CNC machining. This in itself runs into many thousands of pounds. To make matters worse (or better if you like challenges!) the alloy being machined begins to distort as more and more material is removed. To remedy this we heat treat and stress relieve the job in between cutting cycles. It has then to be polished to perfection and chrome plated. It's the sort of high end engineering that Jeff Koons utilizes with a lot of his work. Though how the "Hanging Heart" expended 6000 hours of labour is quite beyond me.|
|David:||So you think it's worth it?|
|Lee:||Without question, just look at the results. It's almost hypnotic when you gaze into something like this. I can babble on for hours about what it is that draws us to objects that are finished in this way. See the further reading section of this site if you're not bored yet.|
|David:||I see, but you do produce work which sells for a lot less?|
|Lee:||Sure, during the past 20 years or so I have personally designed and manufactured 100s of different products ranging from bridal headwear to illumnated floor tiles. The website content has been much condensed.|
|David:||What are your plans for 2010?|
|Lee:||I intend building on a commission I have just completed; the convertible dining table I designed and manufactured for Jez San the President of PKR.com. It transforms from an elegant looking dining table to a poker table by means of a rotating center panel. We had to pioneer new techniques to coat the table with vitreous enamel.|
|David:||I'm looking forward to seeing your progress here.|
|David:||Pleasure speaking Lee.|
|Lee:||It's all mine, cheers.|
. Precision engineering .
. It's applied philosopy .
. Principle inspirations .
. Purveyors of the perfect finish .
Jeff Koons.... Mark Newson
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