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Ty Locke


What made you want to go into your career path? 


Ever since I was young, I was fascinated with objects like garden tools, chairs, bunkbeds, cutlery. I loved finding out how objects worked, taking them apart, breaking them, bending them, drawing with them, discovering their boundaries and figuring out how far I can push them. I began making things from around the age of 12-13 when I found out about origami, the idea that I could turn a flat bit of paper into a boat that can float blew my mind! I was instantly obsessed. I didn’t own many things when I was young so I would fill up my room with objects I found or created.

 When studying at secondary school we weren’t allowed to make sculpture as I took up too much space so we did a lot of drawing and painting, all 2D stuff I enjoyed but this made me want to make objects even more! Then at university my BA was a Fine Art course, manning I could have made anything, dance, paintings, music, prints, but I stuck to sculpture as that’s the path I felt most interested by.  


Did you always think you’d go into this career? How does it compare to how you thought it would be? 


I guess not... I wasn’t aware being an artist was a career until university. When I did art in school I did it because I enjoyed it, art was something I was naturally good at. After finding out art could be a career, I knew that I will be making stuff for the rest of my life. I can’t imagine doing anything else I enjoy this much.

One thing that was unexpected with my practice was people’s expectations. When I began at UCA (University of Creative Arts) I was making artwork I wasn’t very happy with but I thought would get me a good grade. I later realized that an art practice is about making artwork you're truly passionate about, when your happy and confident about something you have created you can tell from a mile off. 

How was life at school?

My life at school was a complicated one. I didn’t have any family support, no help financially and no one to push me to study or better myself. I’ve been independent since about the age of 15. My dysfunctional family did however make me really enjoy school, it was a sense of normality, an escape and my teachers and friends would push me and encourage me to succeed.

I am also heavily dyslexic, which wasn’t diagnosed until I was in university! That meant throughout school I was struggling more than other people and had no idea why. I assumed I was just less intelligent than others. When I started on my BA, I thought I would be at the bottom of the pile, I discovered quickly that everyone was learning at the same time.

After getting a place on my BA course at UCA, I unfortunately became homeless so paying for my studies seemed impossible. I told UCA about my situation and they helped me get a flat and supported me financially until I was in a position where I could support myself. Being confident enough to ask for this help make my life a lot easier!

How did you get into your career? 

When I studied art in 6th form, I didn’t realise that university was an option for me, but my Art teacher at the time, Miss Maxwell, told me about art university and even helped me fill in my application. After my BA I had enough confidence in my practice to apply to Slade, one of the top Art universities in England and I got in! I now study my MFA at Slade in Sculpture which only takes between 12-20 students a year. When I was 15, I had no idea that was possible.

I am now continuing to develop my practice and gaining a supportive following that believe in my Artwork, I get funded to make community events and give workshops and lectures at schools about my work. All while working part-time for the artist Ann Carrington, who made the Shell Lady on the Harbour Arm, where I spend 3 days a week welding flowers out of spoons for her!

What do you enjoy most about it?

The thing I enjoy most about sculpture is the freedom to explore, I decide what I make and what journey it takes. I could be making 50 sculptures that all use welded metal then change my mind and start making sculptures out of toasters. I make my own decisions on what I make, when I make it and how I make it.

What are your ambitions?

I want to own my own studio one day where I can tailor the space however I like, having access to all the tools and materials I could possibly need.

Tell us a fun story about your work  

The Margate Festival once funded me to make a large sculptural performance on the beach where I built hundreds of identical sandcastles and anyone could come and help me. On the first day, after 6 hours of work, I walked away for a little while and when I came back someone squashed all of them! So, on day 2 I let all of the people that helped me build the castled destroy them, giving them the satisfaction of destroying their own creation. 

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