Working in partnership with artist David Murphy, seven of our talented apprentices crafted seven sapling-like trees from steel.

These were unveiled to a record crowd at the second National Festival of Making in Blackburn on May 12 and 13.

The project is part of a wider aim to demonstrate art in manufacturing. The event organisers “hope that art in Manufacturing has a deeper impact than the experience of one weekend; helping to shape our future cultural capacity through the exploration of our glorious heritage and continuing to make opportunities for our creative instincts to play out.”

The sculptures were very proudly displayed at the town centre’s Prism Gallery and perfectly demonstrated the processes taught in our award-winning purpose built Training School including flame cutting, drilling, folding and welding.

London-based artist David Murphy, who worked in partnership with our apprentices said: “Individual decision making, judgement and creativity have brought unique results and we might even begin to read the works as portraits.” And “ I felt that working with the apprentices was very much in keeping with the spirit of the festival to celebrate share and demystify the manufacturing process as much as the artmaking process”.

David is originally from Newcastle and is a former Artist in Residence at Yorkshire Sculpture Park with his previous exhibits stretching around the globe from the UK to Italy and Egypt.

Kris Mercer, our WEC Group Training and Development Manager, commented: “As one of the leading engineering companies in Blackburn and Darwen, we were very keen to get involved with the Festival of Making once again, especially the Art in Manufacturing project.

“We run a busy architectural metalwork division as part of our group and work closely with a lot of leading artists throughout the year.

“Hosting David Murphy for a two week residency in our Training Academy enabled our apprentices to experience the level of accuracy and skills required for metal art projects as well as the challenges they will face when they start working on commercial projects.”

The creation made with the skilful collaboration of both David and our apprentices is designed to artistically emulate the journey of our apprentices or ‘saplings’ as they grow their career here with us to join the larger world of manufacturing and engineering.

The sculpture is on display until 25th May at Prism Contemporary, Lord Street West, Blackburn.

To find out more about our project at the festival, please visit the official website