The Sorrows Of Steel a welded steel nail sculpture
When I was asked to write a few words about each of the sculptures I have made "no problem" I said and no problem it was until I began to think of the inspiration and perhaps more importantly the reason why I would make a life size Jesus Christ form over 15,000 nails welded together. To begin with I have to admit that I didn't consider myself particularly religious and in all truth if you were to ask any of my family or friends about my religious persuasions they would say I definitely had leanings towards the Pagan so not a good starting point at all. For many years now I have had the Idea of ""Jesus from Nails" at the back of my mind and I think it must have something to do with the painting Christ of Saint John of the Cross by Salvador Dali which I first saw as a teenager and has fascinated me ever since, this combined with my relativity recent switch from sculpting stone to welding composite metal sculptures brought the idea back to my attention a couple of years ago and I began to plan every detail of how it could be constructed and would look in my Mind’s eye, and there it stayed all planned and primed but waiting for the spark to ignite it into reality, then about six months ago during a brain storming session with Stephen my Agent I happened to mention "What about a life size crucifixion of Jesus made from Nails" and he replied something along the lines that religion was a bit of a dodgy subject in the art world so best avoid any controversy and leave it well alone and so this was all the spark I needed to get the ball rolling and the welding began.
So all in all Anarchy is perhaps not the best foundations to build a project on but to be totally honest that was probably a big part of it, but as time went on my outlook began to change.
The sculpture took almost six months to make and to start with I intended to spend a few hours each day on it and then move on to something different so
that I wouldn't get overwhelmed by the thought of bending , welding and grinding thousands of nails together one at a time, but this schedule didn't
last long and soon two hours became half a day and before i knew it i was working on it all day every day seven days a week. I found that the discipline
of getting each and every nail just right quite tricky and this dispelled any feelings of monotony and before long I was working in an almost trance
like state and enjoying myself. As Jesus began to take shape I started to consider the figure in front of me and what he was to different people, a
god to some a significant historical figure to others and every time i ran to the sink to thrust my latest burnt finger into the cooling flow of the
cold water I found myself saying to myself "Stop being such a wuss that’s nothing compared to what he went through".
As time went on and the sculpture neared completion I found that I had become quite attached to my new friend, so much so that when a visitor to my workshop pointed out that in all the classical paintings of the crucifixion Jesus had been speared in the ribs and so perhaps i should cut a hole there to represent this I immediately dismissed the Idea claiming artistic licence when what I was actually thinking was "no mate you've gone through enough I’m not going to do that to you"
So here he is In Jesus Christ and I hope that he stirs some kind of emotion inside of you as he has done in me and the few visitors who have seen him in my workshop, and when you look upon him do so kindly for surely as a Man or a God he looks upon you kindly too.
This piece is now installed in Holy Cross and St Francis, Walmley and I recently had the following message passed on from the Archbishop of Birmingham:-
'I have been instructed by the Archbishop of Birmingham to contact you and let you know how much he was inspired by 'The Sorrows of Steel'. It is awe inspiring he said, having stared at it for a few moments than led those of us present in prayer. I said I am sure you would like to know. Thank you for skilled artistry! God bless you Fr Neil - Holy Cross and st Francis, Walmley'