Forging ahead with incredible creations

With nature as his muse, metal artist Kevin Paxton is forging ahead, making a name for himself with his spectacular sculptures and Banksy-like tendencies.

Highland cows, don’t you just love them?

With their shaggy coats and adorable little calves you can’t help but smile when you see them. Not many of us would keep one in our garden, though… well, not unless it was one of Kevin Paxton’s coos.

A blacksmith to trade, Kevin is making a name for himself as a Scottish architectural metalwork artist. From giant thistles to Highland cows and peacocks to partridges, Kevin’s work has worldwide appeal, with customers from France to Florida as well as closer to home commissioning pieces for private collections and public art.

‘I trained as an apprentice with a local blacksmith who was the chairman of the British Artists’ Blacksmith Association, so as his work evolved, mine evolved too,’ he says.

‘About 16 years ago I decided to go on my own, offering more unusual domestic work as well as art.

‘The art really started to take off when I did a display at the Royal Highland Show. I am their blacksmith and they encouraged me to take a trade stand. The response we got from the public was unbelievable, it was very encouraging.’

Kevin and his team of two work out of an old fashioned smiddy in Ratho. ‘It’s a proper Smiddy from hundreds of years ago . We use old fashioned tools and do everything the old fashioned way. When people come here they say, “No way does your stuff come out of here!”.’

Like many artists, Kevin takes his inspiration from Mother Nature. ‘I mountain bike and I’ve got three Border Collies, so I am out walking with them a lot,’ he laughs.

‘I’m also inspired by wee stories, such as why the thistle became the flower of Scotland. We created the largest thistle ever made, which was displayed at the Highland Show and is going to live in Gretna Green as a tourist attraction. We’ve got plans for an even bigger one. The idea of our work is to make people smile.’

Although most of Kevin’s work is for private collections, he is keen to do more public art. ‘The work is not about me, it’s about the feelgood factor. I would be quite happy if I was like the metal Banksy and anonymous.

‘I lend some of my sculptures out and there are various places throughout the Borders and Edinburgh where my metalwork appears, similar to what Banksy does. Where we have placed work we get such a good reaction from people. It is good fun and people say it brightens up their commute on a wet day. We are becoming known for these smile factor sculptures.’

(This feature was originally published in 2015)

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