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An Introduction to Metal Art and Sculpture

To some people, a heap of metal may seem like useless scrap – others see it as an opportunity to get creative. The truth is, metal art has been part of civilisation from as far back as 6000-7000 BC, showing that its popularity as both a practical and creative material has been sustained for thousands of years. 

In this article, we introduce you to metal art and sculpture, answering a few key questions. 


What types of metal are metal sculptures made of? 

There are no restrictions on materials when creating art. While bronze has long been the most common metal to sculpt with, artists have used a wide variety of metals in their work, including tin, copper, brass, iron, and many others. It’s less common for gold and silver to be used, given their price, with these metals often being reserved for jewellery. Some sculptors have even challenged themselves with creating sculptures from scrap, corroded or rusted metal found in tips – proving that the beautiful materials aren’t necessary for a beautiful result. 

What are the basic types of sculpture? 

Different people may categorise sculpture differently, though broadly speaking, sculpture can be divided into two main categories: free-standing sculpture and relief sculpture. 

  • Free-standing sculpture: As this name suggests, these sculptures are free-standing and have space on all sides. Free-standing sculptures are created by either modelling, carving or joining. Metal sculpting will mostly be done through the more contemporary method of joining – in other words the sculpture will be constructed from pieces of material, rather than carved out of a piece of raw material or modelled into a shape. Some carving may also be incorporated into metal sculpture to add further detail or decoration. 
  • Relief sculpture: These sculptures are attached to a background, usually of the same material. They can be raised or sunken in appearance, and are fairly common on ancient or religious monuments as a decorative feature, or to depict a story or scene. Many examples can be found on ancient Egyptian and Greek temples,  and the Dazu Rock Carvings in China are a stunning, if lesser-known example. 


What is the most famous sculpture in the world? 

There isn’t a clear-cut answer to the title of most famous sculpture in the world, but there are several contenders, including Michaelangelo’s David, and also many striking landmarks such as Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, the Great Sphinx of Giza, and the Statue of Liberty in NYC. 

The Thinker by Auguste Rodin is arguably the most famous metal sculpture in history, depicting a bronze nude man in a position of deep thought. 

What are some examples of creative metal sculptures? 

  • Recycled Art: In recent years, eco-art has become ever more popular. This can involve ‘upcycling’ waste or scrap materials to give them a second life, without the need to be thrown away, whilst simultaneously drawing attention to civilisation’s wasteful culture and consequently the Earth’s plight. Indian sculptor, Gopal Namjoshi, has work exhibited all around the world. He constructs figures, mainly animals, entirely from scrap metal and the results are often astonishing. 

  • Metal Garden Features: If you aren’t a gnome person, you may wish to opt for a contemporary metallic touch to your garden. The traditional route includes bronze figures and fountains, but metal sculpture can also bring a touch of chic to an outdoor space with more abstract and contemporary designs. 

  • Transforming plumbing and heating equipment: British artist, David Adams, started work in the plumbing and heating industry in Derby which brought him in contact with metals such as copper, lead and aluminium before coming self-employed. He creates exquisite outdoor garden features and sculptures, mainly using copper, with many of his designs featuring trees, flowers and birdlife. Here at JTC Roofing, we donated metal to this artist so they could craft metal roses for the purpose of raising funds for the ICU unit in the Royal Derbyshire Hospital – hopefully the donations will make a positive difference for patients and staff alike. 

JTC Roofing tackles any size of project, ranging from cathedrals to cottages. As specialist metal roofing contractors, we operate with a variety of metals including Zinc Roofing and Copper Roofing so you can trust we ensure the highest industry standards from start to finish. We’re happy to offer a free site survey, and will keep you posted on all costs and quotes throughout any project. Contact us today to discuss your plans with our friendly team. 


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