In the no man’s land between fine art and traditional craft..
Jack conducts a playground of tinplate toys, curious characters and ingenious inventions. His inspired mind relishes the challenge of imagining the unpredictable. Influenced by a fascination of old-world engineering, his spectacular creations prove the potential of discarded treasures.
Can be hired for the fabrication of automata, toys, jewellery, puppets, props and sets and unique shop displays. Also available for small scale traditional signwriting, technical advice, workshops and lecturing.
Pigeon: Jack Stiling, Loft 6D, The Old Malthouse, Little Anne Street, Bristol, BS2 9EB
Interview and images by Together & Sunspell
"Born into a family of three brothers, I was one in a bunch of artists, though we all did it differently. I chose the broncho heading down the penniless artist path and held on. It was my big brother that got me into bike mechanics; he’s still doing it 13 years later. ‘Discovery through disassembly’ was our unspoken motto, though we didn’t always get as far as putting things back together.
It was my introduction to tinkering. A lot of BMX bikes, scratch built petrol racing cars, I remember an old engine was dragged back from the local allotment one time. Coupled with my dad’s fascination with steam fairs and locomotives and Mum’s ability to seemingly make or do anything, it was only a matter of time until I started to invent. Unfortunately for dad, it all started in his garage."
In education I was practising art and design technology in parallel, earning about the intricacies of expression alongside practical techniques. It was in the old fabrication workshop in college where my fascination with the hand-made began. I started absorbing skills, anything that would help me realise my current or future ideas. From that point I only got more ambitious. I made an arms-worth of steel armour after college and got a place on a contemporary crafts course in Falmouth.
In those 3 years I was constantly pushing myself. I wanted to mix the complexity of art with the complexity of movement and mechanism. Developing my practise in a grey area, I was playing where the art world and traditional craft lock horns, so the tutors left me to it. For the final show I produced my first motorised automata, a robot named ‘The Craftsman’. It embodies 3 years of discoveries, failures and solid head-scratching. I loved it.