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  • 24 August 2023
  • Community

James Brunt & LIBERTY UK: The Art of Steel

This summer, LIBERTY Steel UK hosted a very special guest at its Rotherham site – the British artist James Brunt. He’s a name well-known not only in the UK but also across the globe for his ephemeral artworks crafted from natural materials found in forests, parks, and beaches. James embarked on a unique venture with LIBERTY Steel UK to turn his dreams into reality, creating something extraordinary and profound using steel as a natural material with an endless life cycle.

James Brunt explains, “I’m an artist who typically works outdoors using natural materials, but I’ve longed to explore industrial locations, their landscapes, and their waste. I’ve had the privilege of accessing the LIBERTY site to explore obsolete materials, the land, and the waste products that accumulate here. While exploring the site and examining the materials scattered around, I’ve been able to craft amazing artworks. I enjoy repurposing old materials to create visually intriguing pieces that temporarily transform the site’s dynamics. Simultaneously, this process explores the connection between creativity and the industry’s creative process itself.”

Traditionally, James uses stones, leaves, and other natural waste materials for his art. However, this time, he’s blending these natural elements with steel. He’s drawn to the idea of giving these once-crucial, now-obsolete materials a final flourish before they transform into something new. It’s a captivating and symbolic concept that captures the essence of his work.

James Brunt’s journey into creating artworks from natural materials began 14 years ago when he decided to spend more time outdoors. He made a life-changing choice to leave his employment behind and fully embrace the life of an artist, embarking on a path he truly believed in. His passion for art traces back to his school days when drawing was the one thing he excelled at. This passion led him to art college in London in 1994, where he pursued a fine art degree.

When asked about his ideas and inspirations for his artworks, James adopts a refreshingly simple approach. He states, “My process is really simple; I avoid complex designs that might hinder my enjoyment of the natural environment. For instance, spirals are very simple – once you start, you know exactly where the next element should go. I don’t view my work as creating pictures; instead, I seek an immersive state where the rearrangement of matter becomes one with everything around me – the birds singing, the flora growing, and more. I don’t plan anything in advance or sketch out ideas. Most of my work is inspired by what I discover on the day. How can I pre-plan a work of art when I don’t know what materials I’ll find to work with?”

James Brunt is part of a vibrant community of land artists from all over the world. He describes them as a “family” that frequently gathers at various events and festivals to collaborate and create together.

Talking about his dream project, James responds, “Well, this is it – having access to sites like LIBERTY, which are crucial for both the local community in terms of employment and the production that goes out into the world. Creating large-scale industrial works has been on my bucket list for a long time. I’d love to develop this further into an actual exhibition featuring not just my work but that of other artists who share my approach. It would be wonderful to invite schools to see the exhibition, but that’s a goal for the future. For now, I’m thoroughly enjoying creating art here.”


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