ODS chats with artist Helen Neyland, Founder and Director of Entanglements metal art studio, about the value of art in private and commercial landscapes.
ODS chats with artist Helen Neyland, Founder and Director of Entanglements metal art studio, about the value of art in private and commercial landscapes. We get Helen’s views on the design process and find out what the key considerations are for choosing the right sculptural piece to enhance a landscape or public space.
Tell us about your background as a designer.
I've always had a passion for design. I am a very hands on and visual person. I studied an array of art and trade subjects at Swinburne University, everything from sheet metal to woodwork and drafting.
Prior to opening Entanglements Metal Art Studio I was a Visual Merchandiser for Myer and Freedom Furniture. That was back in the day when we were creating props signage and ticket writing, there was no computer work involved! My art has evolved since those early days to encompass all of my experience and passions.
What is your design philosophy?
I gravitate toward simple design; I find a strong focal point and create a stunning feature, then work a story around that piece.
Artwork should be timeless and mean something to the viewer. Outside finishes should be different from inside, and be a finish that gets better with time. A piece should cast shadows and light as the sun moves through the day, creating a bit of magic in an outdoor space. Above all it should be set in a place where it can be enjoyed by all.
How did your metal design studio, Entanglements, come about, and what is its main focus?
When l had my first child, I left my full-time visual merchandising role to focus on being a mum while continuing with my freelance visual merchandiser work. I was working on a nursery revamp project when l began to realise there was no large artwork or sculpture pieces on offer to create a focal point in the garden. At the same time, due to the closeness of new houses being built next to each other, I was also noticing a growing trend in the development of outdoor entertaining rooms and that fact that many windows looked out onto the blank walls of neighboring houses.
I saw an opportunity to make these developing spaces into something more visually appealing and started designing rusty metal trellises and high planters to bring greenery to the walls. Using a plasma cutter and hand cut metal gum leaves and cherry blossoms we created backlit metal masterpieces - and Entanglements was off and running.
I love working and relaxing in my garden, and the people that work in the landscape industry are so passionate and creative I feel at home working with them. Entanglements really just evolved by creating what our clients wanted in our work shop.
We still do most of the work in our workshop, which is great because it means we can have clients come in and we can work on adjustments if needed to ensure they get the piece they want.
How does the design process work? How do you work with a client/specifier/contractor to create a bespoke piece?
We have a standard range of metal wall art and sculptures that clients can choose from. Alternatively, we can work with them on a bespoke piece.
Usually we work with clients using photos of their projects and the project specs, which gives us an idea of the style and size of the project and the piece needed to finalise the space. We can modify an existing sculpture if necessary, resizing it as required, or we can create a completely bespoke metal artwork to fit the project needs.
What factors should a client consider when commissioning/choosing an art piece?
I like to work with clients to ensure we create/provide something that not only suits their style and taste but also works within its surroundings. We need to consider where it will be placed and how exposed it will be. Harsh elements can affect the design, and therefore the longevity of the piece, so the style and material type need to be factored into considerations surrounding the location and what we need to do to compensate for any site difficulties.
What do you feel are the key considerations to creating/placing an art piece in a private or commercial landscape?
One of the key considerations is choosing a piece that enhances the site and becomes a stand out design. There is often too much of the same thing out there. I feel there is value in finding the right piece to tell a story that will have an impact.
How do these considerations differ when commissioning a piece for a public space?
I feel the same design principles apply whether it is a public or a private commission – do something that stands out and tells a story, and have fun in creating it.
Additional considerations when creating a public art piece include safety regulations. A sculpture needs to fit the specifications of the site with regard to safety. Ease of installation also needs to be considered, and it must fit both the budget and design briefs. In addition, a public art piece may also be subject to harsher elements, it may be in a more exposed location, therefore it needs to be manufactured of materials that will withstand those conditions without compromising the visual statement.
I love these particular challenges when creating public art. The problem solving element adds some fun to the design process.