18-20 Burners Lane, Kiln Farm, Milton Keynes, MK11 3HB info@artsgatewaymk.org.uk 01908 635 903

In Conversation with…Andy Shaw

We talk to Arts Central resident Andy Shaw about his upcycling work in the latest of our ‘In Conversation…’ pieces.

Please start by telling us a little about yourself and how you came to be a resident at Arts Central

I am a qualified Engineer and Designer with extensive industrial experience. I have worked in the manufacture and repair of complex engineering machines for the first half of my career and latterly taught and researched the subject at postgraduate level at Lancaster, Cambridge and Cranfield Universities. I am a member of a Sea Shanty band called Sloop Groggy Dogs. One of the band members was a trustee of the Arts Gateway charity and asked for help when the studios were being built. I volunteered and helped in the build and then decided to get a small studio myself to kick off my upcycling work. Now after two moves to larger studios I still don’t have room to swing a cat.

What medium do you work in?

I take unwanted and end of life items and upcycle them, giving them an extended life and usefulness, reducing waste going to landfill. Recent projects have included a metamorphic chair, an industrial mitre saw and a large electric powered breaker that has been exported to the Caribbean as part of a charity relief effort.

What does your art practice look like?

I tend to buy things at local auctions and then ‘improve’ or ‘redesign’ them. Currently all my time is going on creating the new public space at Arts Central so the practice is a bit on the back burner.

How has your style developed over the years?

I am exploring it now with some ideas in a steam punk direction, but it does just depend on what turns up.

What inspires you?

Environmental concerns and other reuse artists.

Are there subjects or themes that you return to in your work?

All under development, though I am taking three old sewing machines and a rusty typewriter to bits to provide raw material.

Would you call yourself an artist?

Not really, more a creative.

Who is your favourite artist?

Probably Salvador Dali, although I do like Canaletto also.

What do you enjoy most about your art?

I just like to be creative and give things a new life.

Tell us about a particular piece of art that you are proud of

I liked doing the metamorphic chair. I got it for free and I cleaned and oiled it and changed the screws for more antique ones. It sold for over £50.

Why did you decide to become a resident at Arts Central?

My lounge was getting rather cramped with two lathes on the floor.

How has Arts Central helped to expand your practice?

It has given me the space to work.

What are your goals for the next five years?

Do more at Kiln Farm.


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