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Paul Coldwell in Times Higher Education

This summer Times Higher Education asked academics what they did with their ‘free’ time. CCW Professor Paul Coldwell responded to the question.

‘I substituted the casual jacket and chinos for boiler suit, goggles and steel-capped boots.

As an artist and academic, research and practice are intertwined. Ideas that exist as thoughts or sketches are constantly tested in the studio, and this flows back into both teaching and further research. However, each process brings its own demands, and there are occasions when a concentrated focus is required.

This summer, I was determined to resolve a number of small sculptures that I had been developing over the preceding months. So, for a few weeks, I substituted the casual jacket and chinos for boiler suit, goggles and steel-capped boots and closeted myself in the very well-equipped metal foundry at Chelsea College of Arts.

The generosity and enthusiasm of the foundry’s director, John Nicoll, creates an environment that is welcoming and professional. I enjoyed the sense of community, working together with the final-year MA students as they prepared for their final show.

The process of casting is long and complex, involving “investing” the wax originals by attaching wax rods to enable the metal to flow, preparing the piece for pouring, then digging out the casts from the sandpit. Working directly in the foundry allows me to respond to each stage, modifying and fine-tuning the pieces until they are complete. Despite my impatient nature, this is a process that cannot be rushed.

The process of casting itself impacted on the actual sculptures I ended up making. Thinking about how the metal flowed round the sculpture led me to incorporate aspects of this in the making of the sculptures, and I increasingly thought of them in terms of fluid lines, and drawing with the metal. It was a highly productive few weeks.’

This story was originally posted online in Times Higher Education on 17 September 2015.

Top image: Coldwell in the foundry at Chelsea