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Living on the knife-edge pays off for ‘heavy metal’ artist Nigel

December 2nd, 2020 5:45 PM

By Emma Connolly

Nigel and his steel swan. His interest in steel began when he forgot objects for an art class, so borrowed knives and forks.

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A WEST Cork artist has been living on a knife-edge during the pandemic – but with tremendous results.

Well known painter and sculptor Nigel Connell Bass is renowned for his creations of birds and animals made from new and recycled metals, including common kitchen cutlery.

Nigel, who lives in Castledonovan near Drimoleague, is also a painter of extraordinary instinct and is featured in Cork Artists Winter Showcase by Uillinn: West Cork Arts Centre.

In recent years Nigel could count on nearly half his earnings to come from sales at the Sculpture Garden at Blarney Castle which didn’t take place this year.

The Uillinn collection, by over 60 artists from all over Cork, provides a gifting opportunity to shop local and support local artists whose incomes have been drastically impacted by Covid-19 restrictions.

Normally at this time of the year, preparations for the Uillinn Christmas Fair would be underway. However the showcase will continue until January 16th instead.

Remaining positive Nigel, who is a full-time carer to his partner Breda, says: ‘It’s nice living in my bubble in the hills. I work from home so I can look after Breda and the house and still get three to four hours in my workshop or else work inside, near her.’

Nigel started out designing and building sets and backdrops for busy theatre companies in the UK. In between, he spent many years house painting and decorating to make ends meet.

In 2015 he decided to take the arts course at Rossa College in Skibbereen, and that’s where his association with cutlery started.

He was supposed to bring in objects from home for his drawing class, but arriving with nothing he went to the canteen and borrowed some cutlery and a corkscrew and a few other bits. Later in the course he had to make something with found objects, so he just returned to the cutlery. He started on what was going to be the head of a bald eagle made with stainless steel and forks.

‘It got out of hand and I ended up with a life-sized bald eagle with an eight-foot wingspan!’ he said.

See Nigel’s work in the Cork Artists Winter Showcase at uillinngalleries.com or follow him on Instagram at ‘themetalmorphosis.’

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