Saturday, 11 January 2014

Imagination at Work

Do you remember the transformers, those toys which made the wonders and delight of kids in the 80s and which could take various forms? Mainly, they looked like incredible futuristic robots which could, by skilful manipulation and the use of imagination, become highly sophisticated cars defying our wildest dreams.

Imagination being crucial in the process of creation reminds us of Napoleon Hill (1883-1970), an American author in the area of the new thought movement, who stated : “First comes thought; then organisation of that thought into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination”.

Merging the two concepts – transformation and imagination – we can now start our journey into James Corbett´s unexpected and mesmerizing art world. Born in Ningi, Queensland, Australia, he ran an auto recycling business, which provided him with the opportunity to discover his talent for creating incredible life-like sculptures in which he exclusively uses car parts salvaged from nineteen forties, fifties and sixties automobiles. In fact, his artwork can be considered steampunk sculpture, a category featured in one of our previous posts on Sue Beatrice’s work, produced with watch parts.

Corbett spends weeks locating suitable pieces, which he then meticulously cleans and welds together to create his sculptures. Quite naturally, he started by producing vehicles, such as cars, bicycles or buggies. However, encouraged by the interest thereby unfold and the success achieved, he ventured into new areas and started to craft animals, birds, insects and the human figure, among other items, which presently are widely sought after around the world.

His stunning creations preserve the integrity of each car part used, since Corbett never alters or bends into shape any of the material with which he works. As he, himself, puts it, “the parts themselves are often interesting. Some are as much as eighty years old”. And he goes on saying: “I create my sculptures not only because I am able to, but because I am unable not to. My sculptures are by nature a solved puzzle, and it’s the challenge of solving the puzzle that gives me the pleasure”.

Just like kids in the 80s were fascinated by the transformers and all the magic they offered their imagination to work on, James Corbett truly enjoys solving the puzzle of creating three dimensional artefacts from the images he has in his mind. The fact that his sculptures feature elaborately detailed replicas with a distinct futuristic element further enhances the association made to the popular toys from the 80s, since they offer viewers the opportunity to embark on an unexpected journey into the world of fantasy where their imagination is constantly challenged.

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