How I became an artist

How it started

How I became an artist – technically a found object assemblage sculptor –  started with a long, flat, narrow piece of metal. I found it on the street on my way to the gym and picked it up. Then I started to wonder what it was and where it had come from.

Soon I started finding similar pieces on random streets at random times, and I began consciously looking for them to see if I could establish a pattern: Were they from telephone poles? Street lights? Building sites? Attached to cables or wires?

In addition to the mystery objects

While looking for these ‘mystery objects’, I started seeing an amazing array of abandoned nuts, bolts, washers, nails, screws, bobby pins and rusted wire on the roads. I was surprised that I had never noticed these before.

Many of these pieces of metal were in a lovely state of rust. The idea of making wall sculptures using these materials suddenly popped into my head.

On becoming a ‘bag lady’

So I have become a ‘bag lady’, picking up bits and pieces of metal and plastic whenever I go walking. I have my standards: All material, including backing boards and tiles, must be scavenged from roads, laneways or footpaths. No aluminium cans, bottle caps or pop tops allowed (though I’ve made a few exceptions for those that have been aesthetically crunched and scrunched by traffic).

Skips are legit for hunting and gathering if they are on public roads, but not if they are on private property. Absolutely no fossicking in bins. Mud and dirt can, indeed must, be washed off before assembling.

My makeshift studio

Initially I started making my wall sculptures in my home office. My work bench was a camp table that I bought on special at Aldi.

I went to a hardware shop and asked them to recommend a clear glue that would stick anything to anything. They recommended one that sticks pretty much everything to everything, which I dispense through my trusty glue gun.

I usually create my artworks several at a time, doing lots of experimenting before I start glueing. I sort my bits of metal and plastic by type into containers. This makes it easy to try out different types, sizes or colours of screws, bolts, nuts or whatever objects I’m using.

Once my works are completed, I photograph them for Instagram (@NancyDeeSculptures).

And before I forget

And, yes, back to those first inspirational ‘mystery objects’. Russell from my gym class eventually caught me in the act of darting onto the road to pick one up.

“Do you know what these are?” I asked, a little embarrassed. “I use them in my wall sculptures.”

“Yes,” he replied, “They’re the wires from the circular brushes in the street sweepers.”

Aha–mystery finally solved!

One of the long, thin narrow pieces of metal I kept finding in the gutters
Metal collected from the streets. The long flat wire ‘mystery objects’ are at top right.
Junk and wall sculpture layout in my makeshift home studio.
Trash that’s been sorted at my home studio
Street cleaner brushes – the bristles were the source of my ‘mystery objects’.