British artist Joe Rush is the savior of scrap

Photo of British artist Joe Rush in his studio holding parts of an old drill.

Artist Joe Rush shows what he saw in the remnants of an old drill.
photo: Owen Bellwood

When you see old rusted frames or Motor failed, no hope of repair, what your gut tells you to do with it? Most ordinary people would think it’s time to say goodbye to it. Send it to the big garbage dump in the sky. But British artist Joe Rush sees much more in these destroyed mechanical parts.

Rush established film sets in England. But since he had been obsessed with anything engine-related his entire life, he soon began to find a new way to express his creativity. Now he builds huge sculptures, Set up gallery fixtures And collaborate with musicians and filmmakers to create works using only mechanical scraps.

Rush receives old car parts, rusted tools and broken bike parts from his studio in south London and brings them back to life.Engine crankshaft could be part of an ornate fireplace; motorcycle fuel tank A steampunk sculpture that could be repurposed as a giant ant.

Jalopnik chatting with Rush in his studio Bermondsey. He describes his creative process on a recent sculpture.

“One day I was looking at this old motorcycle in my bedroom,” he said. “First, I thought I’d be a motorcycle rider, like a robot type. Then, I thought I could do something like a centaur and make a motorcycle a man.”

A photo of a table covered in scrap.

One’s trash is Jorash’s treasure.
photo: Owen Bellwood

Rush was quick to scour the scrap heap for shock absorbers to represent the muscles in his new beast. When he set out to make “bikes into men,” he used a gas tank as his torso.

After making his first scrap sculpture, Rush used everything he’d learned to make the set movies like this star wars and Brazil Refresh the car parts and other machinery he finds in the junk heap.

“I used to raid movie studios for skips,” he said. (“Skip” is British for dumpster.) “Once we finished the set, they would throw everything in the dumpster, and I would throw everything out and take it back to my studio.”

It’s the approach he’s stuck with ever since. Rush has been pushing the boundaries of mechanical scrap construction for years.he used to Reconstructing the historic site of Stonehenge Use military equipment left over from the fall of the Berlin Wall. He made a giant floating whale out of excess aluminum.

A photo of a small robot head made from scrap.

Oh hey, this looks like a head.
photo: Owen Bellwood

Walking around his studio, he showed me a model of his dog that he is currently making out of motorcycle parts, as well as a model made entirely out of motorcycle parts. Rusty hand tools.

“I tend to find lots and lots of scrap, and I might just see something in it,” he said. “One day, I’ll probably hold it up and think, ‘You know what, this looks like a head.’ This goes for anything, from small drills and wrenches to trains and tanks and planes.”

Some of Rush’s most important works have been in Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts. The annual event is the UK’s largest music festival. It’s kind of like a dirtier, older version of Coachella with a weirder Anglicism.

Every year, 175,000 revelers come to a place associated with Arthurian legends. There, like Paul McCartney, Billie Eilish, Diana Ross, Pet Shop Boys, Blossoms and TLC music will be provided, while circus performers, comedians, artists and craftsmen celebrated throughout the week. Honestly, this is my favorite place in the world.

Photo of a mechanical phoenix at the top of the Pyramid stage at the Glastonbury Festival.

Sympathy for metal.
photo: Matt Cardy (Getty Images)

Rush creates a new installation for the festival every year.This includes flowing sculptures, stage designs, and even a giant fire-breathing phoenix that crowns the main stage The Rolling Stones hit the headlines in 2013.

“When we built the giant phoenix, I just wanted to put it out there and hope for the best. But my wife let us rehearse and I’m glad we did. It’s a wonderful moment, and if it messes up, Then I look like the biggest idiot on the planet,” he said.

“It was a wonderful moment, absolutely wonderful.”

At the festival, Rush also curated film projection device with director Julian Temple. It’s a car lover’s dream – the artist uses a bunch of cars of different shapes and sizes to create a sci-fi-style drive-in theater.

“For that, I have 60 cars and I don’t have to run them,” he explained. “Some of them are big old Cadillacs, Oldsmobiles, Chevys, Jaguars and Morris minors. It’s just all the fun cars I could find on eBay. But since I’m not bothered trying to fix them, So I was able to put tank tracks on one of the Cadillacs, or put tractor wheels on this 2CV.”

Festival-goers can choose the outrageous vehicle of their choice and sit back and enjoy the film.

Photo of a group of people sitting in a converted car at Glastonbury Cineramageddon installation.

They looked like they were having a good time at the cinema.
photo: Olisskaff/AFP (Getty Images)

but if Idea of ​​a 2CV with tractor wheels Here’s your heebie-jeebies, don’t worry. Rush isn’t just an artist looking to destroy iconic vehicles from automotive history. In fact, he explained that sometimes, when he went to dig for parts, he might come across a car that needed rescue.

“In the same buying quest, I end up buying myself as I buy an Oldsmobile convertible or a Rocket 98 — it’s a beautiful thing,” he said.

“Cars like this, I’m on the road all the time. I’m always improving the vehicle. The car I drive in Glastonbury is an HJ60 Toyota – it’s that old, boxy, boxy car Toyotas. I rebuild them and I want them to work fine mechanically.”

Rush explained He also rebuilt a coffee racer Motorcycles, a project he’s invested in during the Covid-19 lockdown, has a collection of American muscle cars that demand his attention whenever he gets home.

Photo of a dog model made from motorcycle parts.

Good dog.
photo: Owen Bellwood

“I like the big, cumbersome way Americans work,” he said.

His collection includes Chevrolet Express The van, which is his daily driver, and the V8 Chevrolet Silverado Since 2001. Last year, he also added an Airstream land yacht to his potentially large garage.

He also recently rebuilt a 1971 Buick Riviera (stern) and an Oldsmobile imported from California to the UK.

“Such a beautiful machine,” he added. “I love them.”

But whether it’s ripping a car to shreds and turning it into a sci-fi horse head or trying to fix a bike to bring it back to life, Rush said he always appreciates the beauty of these objects.

“The interior of the machine is very sophisticated,” he explained.

“These helical cut gears come from differentials, pistons and connecting rods and cranks and bearings. They’re just wonderful metal. If you take the crank of the engine out of its function, you get this totally weird, looking Like random shapes. I love the pieces, and if you just polish it, you get something very, very beautiful.”

A close-up photo of a rusted Triumph name badge.

Joe Rush’s work to repurpose scrap is a victory.
photo: Owen Bellwood

For many, twisting a construction vehicle feels like an art form. Rush is keen to point out that, at least in his experience, the two practices require two very different skills.

“A bicycle is a machine, a machine is a very balanced mechanism. So you have to be very precise. And with my sculpture, I can piece it together. Anything that brings it together is valid, really .”

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