Copper in the Arts

October 2012

The Electrifying Copper of Drury Lane Studios

By Michael Cervin

A Visitation Copper Sculpture Visitation. A visually rich tapestry of copper. Using copper foil and copper wire.

Photograph courtesy of Jonathan Drury

"Before there was a bronze age, there was a copper age," says artist and mechanic Jonathan Drury. "Everyone knows about the Bronze Age but the Copper Age seems to be rarely mentioned." But Drury, like so many others, keeps the revival going with his inventive approach to art that blends his love of mechanics, copper and light.

Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he earned a BFA from Louisiana State University but drew most of his inspiration from his dad.

"My father worked as an electrician for 44 years so he had lots of experience installing and fixing electrical devices, says Drury. This was the impetus for Drury's copper inspired works of art, which are also practical.

"Someone once described my work as copper origami," he says. And in seeing the way he bends wood, copper and electricity into functional lamps, they might be right. "There is a lot of satisfaction working with my hands; a joy that comes from making something beautiful and useful."

From that springboard Drury set about making unique lamps.

"I love to work with light, copper, brass and electricity," he says. "My 20 years of industrial and commercial construction experience helps me achieve these lamps."

Copper and brass lamp Copper and brass lamp.

Photograph courtesy of Jonathan Drury

Drury's lamps evoke a sensible and practical side, as well as a mechanical beauty. He sources his copper from retail stores with various thickness and widths depending on what his needs are, as well as the occasional garage and estate sale copper find. But he also sources copper from Nimrod Hall Copper Foil Company in Springfield, VA.

"Copper has a time and a place, and I wanted my work to be interactive, something visually substantial, so the ridges, the bending and folding of the copper really adds depth," he notes. Drury works his copper in his studio and anneals it by hand. He will apply linseed oil on the wood, and he prefers a patina on his copper, either a natural patina, or vinegar ("the standby," as he calls it) to accelerate the visual changes and meld with the soft wood tones. "Copper has such a range, which is why it's such a great metal; I love it shiny, I love the green patina, I love the natural brown it achieves," he says.

His work has been shown in solo and group shows in California, Louisiana, New York and Virginia and he aims to keep the public's attention through his website and shows, realizing that it takes time to cultivate a buyer-seller relationship. "One woman told me it would take three years before people make a purchase," he recalls. "True or not, relationships are always key." An upcoming juried arts show at Pro Arts in Oakland, California, December 7th to January 12th will undoubtedly see people flocking to Drury Lane Studios' unusual and fascinating copper work.

Resources:

Drury Lane Studios, (925) 895-7997

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