Meet the Artist: Jim Bond

Jim Bond is a UK based sculptor specialising in kinetic and figurative work using a combination of forging, brazing and welding copper, stainless steel and steel. He has exhibited nationally and internationally including exhibitions at Kinetica Museum, Flowers East, The Saatchi gallery in London and A22 Gallerie, Budapest. Jim has answered some questions for Art Unpacked, giving us a bit more detail about the pieces he creates and why reactive movement fascinates him so.

How would you define yourself? As a sculptor, artist, maker, tinkerer?

I’m a sculptor specialising in kinetic mechanical work.

Was there a defining moment when you decided that’s what you wanted to be?  Or was it a more gentle process?  Tell us about it…

When I was a teenager I looked round Edinburgh Art College and just knew that I wanted to be part of that. I had to be an artist. It helped that my Mum is a painter.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I find it all around. Films, books, music, graffiti, dropped notes found in the street. I keep everything in small sketchbooks which I always carry with me.

Jim Bond installing ‘I see You’

Visitors to Marvellous Mechanicals have been really enjoying your work, particularly ” I see you”.  Can you tell us a bit more about this series of eye pieces and how they developed?  

The first eye sculpture ‘Blink’ was made for a Kinetica International Touring exhibition entitled ‘Creatures Great and Small’. The theme was organic structures combined with machines. Inspired by my fascination with my grandfather’s glass eye I decided to make an isolated eye with a life of its own. Housed in a copper eye ball the mechanism is triggered by movement. The first one sold to a US collector at the first venue so I made a second which sold at Lux Helsinki earlier this year. I like the idea of there being a pair of eyes which are so far apart. I decided that the eye pieces should be in editions of two so I created ‘I see you’ as the beginning of the next series. I made a brass eyeball so it would be visually different. It looks from side to side using a servo (a motor that moves the eye back and forth) which is controlled by an arduino (a micro controller, programmed to stop and start when it gets a signal from the sensor).

Why is the element of movement important in your work?

Movement takes an object and turns it into an engaging performance. I love the element of uncertainty in the mind of the viewer. There is a different dynamic between the viewer and the work.

A lot of your kinetic work is triggered by the movement of people or the environment around the work.  What is it about this interaction that fascinates you?  How do you want the audience to feel?

The use of sensors in my work is fundamental. It creates a dynamic between the viewer and the work which you don’t get with static sculpture. People come with their own pre-conceptions of what they think will happen and how they think it will work. Usually they wave their arms in an attempt to make the sculptures work but I build in extra devices to elude the obvious responses. ‘Blink’ had an additional random motor which made it impossible to predict when it would blink. In Helsinki a man tried to have a staring contest with it. A growing crowd watched as he stood perfectly still. Of course the sculpture couldn’t blink because the man wasn’t moving.

Chain Reaction workshop at Craven Museum and Gallery

You have been leading some ‘Chain Reaction’ workshops throughout the tour.  Can you tell us a bit more about them?  How have the participants reacted to the challenges?

The chain reaction workshop is a great challenge which requires invention, experimentation, and team work. It’s always great to see how different groups respond. Some bounce ideas off each other creating momentum and energy. Others prefer to work alone but their section still has to join up with the rest of the chain reaction. I have to help them all communicate and solve their problems but I always allow them the space to fail and succeed using trial and error to overcome the technical challenges.

Finally, are there any new developments in your work that you’d like to share, such as exciting commissions or new pieces?

I have just produced a series of orreries for the Bohun Gallery in Henley on Thames. They are copper globes orbited by the moon, an aeroplane, and a satellite. I am also working on a spinning globe light sculpture.

‘Orbital’, Jim Bond