To celebrate our fourth triennial open art exhibition – this time in collaboration with Craftspace and showcasing alternative craft work – we’ve got a Q&A with invited exhibiting artist Roland Kappel for you this week. The exhibition, ‘Radical Craft’, will showcase UK creativity by artists facing barriers to the art world for reasons including health, disability, social circumstance or isolation, and who have submitted their work through the Outside In website. The works selected through this open call out (there’s still time to submit – the deadline is 5pm, Friday 30 October) will be displayed alongside pieces by historically renowned and invited contemporary outsider and self-taught artists.
The exhibition will launch at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester from 12 March – 12 June 2016, before touring nationally. For more information, please click here.
Why did you start making art?
Roland Kappel: I have always been interested in construction machinery – ever since I was a child. The “Roland Kappel building mission” (“Baumis´on Roland Kappel”) is like a real construction company. We design and build everything ourselves, and we even perform the surveys on the construction site.
Was there a certain moment or event that made you start making art?
RK: When I was five, there was a huge construction site in Reutlingen, the school was in Ringelbach Street. That’s the first time I ever saw a KAISER telescopic crane and I can well remember it. It had a luffing jib and a red grappler. We started making building cranes and excavators 40 years ago, first of all out of paper and cardboard, then out of wood and, later still, out of metal. We also made concrete mixers and the big concrete machinery and cement silos as well as compressors and other construction machinery.
Is your art work inspired by other artists, or landscapes or certain people?
RK: I just use what I can find, for instance wood and wheels or parts of an old radio.
How would you describe the style that you work in?
RK: I also draw and paint, anything actually. Pictures of the monastery in Mariaberg and other churches on the Swabian Alb. I draw the structure of building cranes, including the jib and the driver’s cab. I drew various rear views of the DOLBERG excavator. The hydraulics of the bulldozer makes it harder to draw. Sometimes I also draw the Virgin Mary. We are currently building a large monastery complex, cast from gypsum. That is the whole point of the exercise.
What process do you go through when you make your work – what do you start with, then what do you do next?
RK: First of all the lattice masts, then the base, and the jib of building cranes. First of all they are evenly welded and clipped off then, later, when it is time, the thinner rods for the parallel grating, which is then meshed in. That takes a while. And then comes the tower along with the driver’s cab made from sheet metal. If it has a telescope, then antennae are added, then wheels must be added and then string and an engine – one of the two. Then the trailer is added. Finally, everything is sprayed blue or silver, depending. I do my technical drawings in between; whenever an idea comes to me, I draw it.
Has making art changed your life? If it has, how would you say it has changed it?
RK: Yes, art has changed my life a bit, but not greatly. I don’t know whether what I do is art. I wasn’t that active in the building mission as a child. A mission is something that helps people out in an emergency, you cannot simply stop doing it, it has to be done.
For more information about Radical Craft, please click here.