By Mick Jensen
He’s a butcher by day, but when Stuart Mitchell gets home and heads into his man cave, he’s on a mission to craft art from scrap metal and recycled materials like old spanners, pliers and clutch housings.
Old chains, plough parts, vice grips, bits and bike chains are also among his favoured materials.
He forages at car boot sales and swap meets for any metal objects that might add substance and depth to an art sculpture project.
Hours of welding and placement are needed for his unique works, which are remarkably life like.
His finished works include impressive horse and bull heads, a scale size panther, t-rex made from multiple pairs of pliers and smaller, intricate items like deer and chickens.
Stuart has no formal art training, but a night class in welding around four years ago gave him a taste for what could be achieved through welding with recycled materials.
“The shape and scale of the recycled items I pick up really dictates the projects that I tackle.
“Projects sort of evolve and develop over time, which is exciting and I enjoy the 3D aspect of what I’m doing.”
No project was ever started without a clear concept of what he wanted to achieve and also a pile of raw materials that he could use to craft the idea.
“I started out making small art works three years ago, but now I’m getting more ambitious.
‘I enjoy the contrast of coming home from the clean and stark environment of my job at Netherby Meats and getting into overalls and dirty at my welding bench.”
A chance meeting with new gallery owner and sculptor Brent Holley from Grace Gallery will see Stuart Mitchell formally display his art over the coming weeks.
Mr Holley said the ethos of the gallery was to provide a space for talented local artists like Stuart to be visible.
“Stuart’s art is unique and very, very good. A lot of people can weld, but to have his vision and skill is pretty special,”
Mr Holley said the sculptures would be of interest to everyone, and to some men in particular, who would be able to spot tools, and materials from their own workshops and garages that had been used for the purpose of art.
Ten works by Stuart Mitchell will be displayed at Grace Gallery over the festive season and into the new year.
The gallery, on Dobson Street West near Smiths City, is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 10am until 2pm and by appointment.