Two Gray’s School of Art graduates have turned scrap metal into fine art in a project which celebrates the recycling, decommissioning and regeneration of metal products.

Aberdeen-based John Lawrie Group provided the scrap metals as part of its ‘First Commission’ Award which it opened to all fine art graduates at Gray’s Degree Show in June this year.

The company asked the graduates to produce two commissioned artworks for its headquarters in the city’s Greenbank Road, one wall based and the other free standing. Each commission was worth £1000 with an added £250 for materials.

The two eventual winners, chosen by John Lawrie Group senior management from a short list of proposals, were Amy Harvey, 22, and Wendy Pope, 21. Both are graduates from the BA (Hons) painting course at Gray’s School of Art.

The two artists were given access to the company’s workshop facilities and expansive scrap metal yard where they were able to choose and gain inspiration from a vast array of metal items such as chains, pipes, casings, tubings and drill collars.

Amy Harvey, whose degree show sculpture particularly impressed members of the John Lawrie management team, was chosen to produce a similar artwork for display at the company’s headquarters.

Describing her sculpture, Amy, from Aberdeen, says: “What I have produced is a representation of the separating of metals during the journey of reincarnation and recycling. Just like my sculpture at this year’s degree show, I have presented a labyrinth working down through many floors.

“My idea was to have the top floor of the sculpture being made of ferrous metal with a mix of ferrous and non-ferrous metals as the floors go down. As you move through each floor, the labyrinth becomes less complicated just like the mass of metal coming into the John Lawrie yard going through the process to become something new.”

Wendy Pope, from Ayr, has created a large scale, 8’ x 4’ oil painting which she describes as “as non-literal representation of the rebirth of materials that pass through John Lawrie’s yards.”

She added; “A lot of the things I saw in the yard reminded me of imagery I had already used in my work, but also gave birth to new ideas and new elements as a basis for composition. Using shapes which are both fragmented and whole – to represent the idea of scrap being broken apart and reassigned – I have created an image which shows a continual momentum towards new things”

“The commission has been a great experience, really interesting to merge ideas from my own practice with the John Lawrie ethos and what was seen in the yard. It’s been an excellent chance to develop something along a slightly difference line to what I did for the degree show.”

Head of fine art at Gray’s School of Art Allan Watson, has praised the two graduates’ talent and creativity. He says: “I’m absolutely delighted with the artworks which Amy and Wendy have produced. They have used the skills, built up over their degree course at Gray’s to represent and reshape the scrap metal from a different and unusual perspective.”

Management and staff at John Lawrie Group are delighted with their new, specially-commissioned pieces of fine art which have now been installed in the company’s open spaces.

John Lawrie Group Financial Director, Charlie Parker, said: “John Lawrie Group specialises in the recycling and reuse of metals and we were very interested to see how Amy and Wendy would choose to represent our company ethos.

“We were also excited to discover how the graduates had explored the opportunities to use their artistic flair as a means of incorporating the notions of recycling and the circular economy into their artworks. We’re thrilled to see the final results.”

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