Hanging the lizards on the washing line: Julie Aschkenasy meets Richard Pell, whose skill at turning cold metal into dinosaurs, dragons or daffodils is earning him a large following - and amusing the neighbours

WHEN the Hilton Hotel wanted a new fitness centre it demanded more than just a place to work out. So it approached a designer who knew nothing about gyms. Richard Pell's specification was to create something interesting and adventurous. Working in conjunction with Phil Hogan, proprietor of the Hilton's gym, who does know a lot about the subject, he found his lack of knowledge was an advantage. 'I wanted to bring the place alive and feel a sense of movement.'

Out went straight ballet bars, in came highly-polished ones with big curves at different heights to allow different sorts of exercises and a range of stretches. Out went boring lockers, in came curved ones with 'dancing vents'. Everything is metal, shiny and erratic - very different from the style of his own home.

At the back of his darkly cluttered south London flat is a bleak garage, housing Pell's metal workshop. If that sounds depressing, it isn't. An amazing variety of weird and wonderful sculptures stretch from wall to wall to lift this home-cum-workspace from drabness. A dentist's drill is awaiting possible metamorphosis into a lamp; the back end of a Ford Popular is to become a juke box.

The garden provides a good example of Pell's intermingled home and work life: 'I hang (metal) lizards and fish on the washing line to dry - it looks as if I have been hunting. It's not unusual to see 30 of them hanging there.' The neighbours regard his activities as a local attraction, and even bring friends round for a look.

Richard Pell is a fine art graduate, who in his normal working life designs and makes metal sculptures, shop fittings and interiors, all with a very individual feel. 'I like to make metal look like other things, very organic, such as plants and animals. Not at all like heavy industry metalwork.'

The art is one thing, but his bread and butter is a large range of decorative iron-work crafts. These include comic-book dachshund candle-holders, gothic bat and lizard wall sconces, new age clocks and wall decorations. 'I was very nave when I left college. I thought I could make sculptures and sell them, but it doesn't work like that. I started by making leather goods for the fashion industry, which was horrible. When I had enough money I started this business.'

With the help of three workers, he supplies gift shops around the country with his range: dinosaurs, cacti, dragonfly, octopus and sunflowers. They often sport spots and stripes achieved by 'blueing' the metal. 'I get my ideas anywhere, even Coronation Street. Seeing their flying ducks made me decide to make flying fish. We all sit down and have drawing sessions and create all sorts of creatures.'

Things have been going well since the launch about five years ago. So much so that he intends to set up a bigger workshop to cope with his 'standard range' and spend more time on interiors and one-offs.

Nicholas Hall is Pell's biggest fan. About a year ago he was buyer for a shop on the King's Road in London when Pell walked in. 'I immediately saw the potential and told my boss we should get in lots of stuff. It became our best seller.' But then the shop's director decided a 6ft fish mirror was too ugly and should come out of the window; when she also suggested he order less, Mr Hall promptly resigned and set up his own shop, Amadeus.

Eighty per cent of his stock comes from Pell: 'It is my wages, my life] The King's Road is a funny area, sometimes we sell nothing much for days. Then the other day a man came in and put his Gold Card on the counter and said: 'I'm going to go mad]' and has now decorated his whole living room with Richard's stuff.'

Richard Pell (081-693 5740).

London Stockists: Amadeus, 309a King's Road, London SW3 (071-376 4435); D'Arcy, 12 Nelson Road, Greenwich, London SE10 (081-293 9992); Nice Irma, Goodge Street, London W1 (071-580 6921); Nakedly Nothing, 230 Portabello Road, London (071-221 2910); Liberty, Regent Street, W1 (071-734 1234).

Outside London: Mortons, 79 High Street, Poole, Dorset. (0202 669563); Abode, The Shrieves House, 40 Sheep Street, Stratford- upon-Avon (0789 268755); Forsyths, 7 Market Place, St Albans (0727 839702); Earth Walk, 28 Guildhall Road, Northampton (0604 602101); But Is It Art, 56 The Broad Street Mall, Reading (0734 581088).

Prices start from about pounds 10 for wall fish decorations to more than pounds 500 for an enormous fish mirror.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
This year's models: buyers have plenty of options as they try to get the money together to drive away from the dealer in a new car

Car finance options: Best way to buy a 65 plate

Sales could find another gear as the '65' registration hits the forecourts next week. Rob Griffin looks at the finance options
In too deep? Travel cover is among the benefits offered by packaged bank accounts

Claims firms blamed as complaints soar over packaged bank accounts

Many customers complained they were switched to the accounts without their knowledge

Finger on the interest rate trigger: the Bank of England

The best deals on personal loans: Peer-to-peer providers are more competitive for smaller sums

Meanwhile, high-street lenders continue to cherry-pick and be more competitive on larger loans

China stock collapse: Five things you need to know about 'Black Monday'

The market plummeted this week, losing all the gains made for the year

Which? warns sports fans about Rugby World Cup ticket scams

GetSporting.com offers deals that may be too good to be true

Could it be the time to focus on Japan? Some believe the country has no choice but to boost consumption and the economy will get back on track

Investors told to travel the world in the search for higher returns

Assets have risen in value across the board and volatility isn't going away. Rob Griffin asks where we should put our cash
As rising house prices push up demand for renting, so tenants are having to dig deeper than ever

Starter home initiative is urgently needed as rents go through the roof

Rents in England and Wales rose by 1.9 per cent in July to an average of £804

Peer-to-peer lending rates put Nisas to shame

The returns from P2P providers look more attractive than ever

Questions of Cash: Log-in problems turned eDreams booking into one-way ticket to nowhere

The company failed to provide our reader's flight ticket - or a refund

Hot property: business has been booming in estate agents this month, even though it’s the height of the summer holiday season

Heat rises for mortgage deals as UK homeowners sense a rate hike coming

The housing market should go quiet in August but instead people have been acting like cheap loans won't last. Do we really have to rush, asks Simon Read
Phones have now overtaken personal computers as the most used way of accessing the internet

Who you gonna call? The Complaints Busters

Unhappy customers have been given their own Ombudsman to help fight for them.

Undergraduates are being tempted with freebies by banks

Students should give freebies a wide berth and focus instead on cheap borrowing

An interest-free loan far outweighs the value of any of the bank's incentives

The Spanish carrier changed a reader's flight from Madrid – to a time before she was due to land

Questions of Cash: 'A connecting Vueling flight was cancelled and all my travel costs were left hanging in the air'

Our reader encountered problems when flying from London to Ibiza in May to take part in a charity ride

Complacency about rising rates could prove to be costly

Interest rates stay at 0.5% for now - but don't wait to get a better deal on your savings and mortgage

The years of ultra-low rates are coming to an end

The elderly are being targeted by fraudsters with postal scams such as fake prize draws

Fraudsters are bombarding older people with dangerous pension scams: here we reveal the warning signs

Many people are being repeatedly targeted by crooked schemes

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SThree: Experienced Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...

    Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent