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
Saturday 17 July 1993
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.
Geoffrey Macnab reviews American Hustle, also starring Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper
newsFormer soldier taped 33 of the animals to the floor and then stamped on them one by one
Michelle Nijhuis' daughter insists (s)he is, and she learnt a valuable lesson on gender in books
news Opponents claim it would stop performers such as Beyonce and Madonna appearing on TV
It takes a platoon of chefs, litres of brandy and rum, and almost 100kg of dried fruit
food + drink
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 5 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£500 - £650 per day: Harrington Starr: Harrington Starr is working with a Glob...
£27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Consultant (Excel, Financial Spread...
£500 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: .NET Quantitative Developer - Contract ...
£55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Technical Operations Analyst (UNIX, Linux,...
Day In a Page
A four-bedroom chalet bungalow with three bathrooms and a spacious garden, £525,000
A two-bedroom flat with an open plan kitchen and two balconies, close to Arsenal station
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A Grade II-listed home with six bedrooms, secluded landscaped gardens and views across Hadley Green
A Grade II-listed mansion with two apartments and a cottage, near Gretna Green
A three-bedroom Grade II-listed mews house with vaulted ceilings and roof garden
A spacious Grade II-listed family home with annexe and equestrian facilities among four acres of land in Itchingfield
A four-bedroom home with exposed brick walls and open fires in the picturesque village of Northill
A Grade II-listed property with five bedrooms and unique tower, overlooking Hastings Old Town
A charming five-bedroom detached family home, set within half an acre in Kew
A two-bedroom maisonette set on the top two floors of a period building, close to Kentish Town Tube.
Take advantage of the extra space provided by former stables and outbuildings at this five-bedroom farmhouse.
This three-bedroom Victorian terrace is near to Queen’s Road Peckham station, Nunhead station.
A five-bedroom modern house with terrace, swimming pool, Zen treehouse and large carp pond
An unexpected gem with four bedrooms, remarkable vaulted reception and a galleried study area
A five-bedroom house in one of Lymington's most sought after tree lined avenues, moments from the marinas and sailing clubs
A grand early 19th century B&B close to the historic harbour, with four en suite bedrooms
A four-bedroom, 17th century home with walled gardens, a landscaped terrace, cellar and open fires
A six-bedroom house with five bathrooms and four reception rooms spread over 4,000sq ft of luxury living space
A stunning three double-bedroom apartment with two decked terraces in the exclusive gated community, Bromyard House
A 10-bedroom period, family home amid beautiful surroundings in the centre of the Wentworth Estate in Longcross village
A stylish three-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms and private landscaped garden, moments from Fitzroy Square
A Grade II-listed Elizabethan barn with landscaped gardens, exposed elm beams and four bedrooms, all with lovely views
A six-bedroom family home, dating back to 1280 with four reception rooms, barn, swimming pool and tennis courts in Harwell
A spacious two-bedroom flat, refurbished to a very high standard with private landscaped garden, close to Kentish Town station
An exceptional two-bedroom apartment with balcony and underground parking in the centre of Richmond
A one-bedroom, luxury, duplex apartment in the grand landmark building, Imperial Hall
Run a fabulous boutique shop, live above it in a one-bedroom flat and let a second one-bedroom flat that comes part and parcel
A Grade-II listed, thatched cottage in Hundleby village, with five bedrooms, a coach house and three and a half acres
A spacious two-bedroom flat in the heart of Hoxton Square with wooden floors and roof terrace
A five-bedroom family home with stunning pool and gym complex set among two acres of land
A six-bedroom period house with heated swimming pool and a separate two-bedroom annexe cottage in Townlake, £795,000
A spacious and contemporary two-bedroom flat arranged over three floors, with garden patio close to St George Square, £600,000
A one-bedroom flat in a beautiful Regency building opposite the beach in Kemp Town, £190,000
A two-bedroom flat with London skyline views close to Surrey Quays. £395,000.
A seven-storey tower with three bedrooms and a stunning roof terrace. Guide price: £850,000.
A 16-bedroom country pile with nine reception rooms, four self-contained flats and a 13th century Peel Tower. £850,000.
A classic six-bedroom Victorian Manse house 10 miles from Edinburgh. £495,000.
John Lennon's childhood home in Liverpool to be sold at auction. Guide price: £150,000-£250,000.