Bridging Fine Art and Functional Products: Interview with Callum Brown February 22, 2017

Callum Brown was November 2016’s Invention Award winner due to creating Cold Fire – a 3D sculptural piece – after being influenced by artist Tatiana Susvaliuc’s painting. The Invention Award is a £50 bursary for the Pop My Mind community which rewards our most innovative content created in response to another piece of work every month. We chose this piece for the award because we thought it represented what Pop My Mind is about – making innovative and creative responses after being influenced from other artists’ work.


You were inspired by Tatiana Susvaliuc’s piece Someone Inside You. To start us off could you tell us a little about how her piece influenced the creation of yours?

I usually make my 3D wooden pieces with straight slits that create beams of light coming from the pieces. However, the different shapes in Tatiana’s piece inspired me to try more abstract forms of light with different colours. You can’t see the back of the piece from the photograph, but if you turn the piece around the opening is quite twisted and lets more light out that my pieces normally do. Although I did have a good helping of luck when creating the piece too!

The painting that inspired Callum Brown’s winning piece Someone Inside You by Tatiana Susvaliuc

How long have you been making 3D pieces in wood? What is it about this medium which you enjoy?

I’ve never worked with wood before – I only started about five months ago because I needed a lamp in my room! After making it, I shared the picture on Instagram and it got quite a lot of likes so I thought I’d continue to keep making them.

I think my pieces are in that in-between position between a functional item and an artwork. They don’t really give off a lot of light, so I don’t think people will want them as a proper lamp to light their room. I create them because I think they look cool and I think they add something to the space they’re in.

How did you learn how to use the materials?

My granddad has helped me a bit, and I use my granddad’s workshop to make the pieces since he has all the right tools. My job is a mechanical engineer, so I work with metal quite a lot – I assumed when I started that working with wood would be easier (laughs).

When creating these works do you first design them and make prototypes, or for you go straight into making them?

I go straight in. If I’m doing quite a big one, I take more time to think about it and prepare. I also use Solid Works, a 3D design software. It’s easy to use and I can work out if something weighs a lot how much support it needs at the base and kind of thing.

Making the pieces takes a while – the first one took me a really long time but I’ve refined the process a lot since then. Now it takes me about 4 – 5 hours per object. I really enjoy doing it though so the amount of time is fine with me.

The winning piece: Cold Fire by Callum Brown

It was cool to see you doing something new to break out of your normal format. How are you planning to take your work in new directions now that you’ve stretched your creative muscles a bit?

I want to make a really big one next – something a couple of meters high that really makes a statement in a rom. That’s the next step.

I’ve also had an email from Pop My Mind curator Laurel, telling me about the opportunity to create something for the theme Opulent which sounds interesting. So if I have time I’ll try and do something for that too.

You are a fairly new to Pop My Mind, how did you become a member?

I originally applied for a profile because a guy at work’s daughter uses the website and he recommended it to me – she’s called Bethany Walker. I joined to get exposure really – it’s always great to have more people looking at your work! Plus, I liked that the website was for creative stuff only – I guess if you’re showing your work to arty people it will be more appreciated.

If people were to respond to your piece, is there any element that you would like them to focus on and take in new directions?

I think the light is the main feature in my piece and the coolest bit, if someone was to Pop my piece I think taking that feature and doing something new with it would be the most interesting direction.

Do you have an idea of what would you like to spend your £50 bursary on?

Tools definitely! I keep changing my mind, but I’m thinking about buying a new band saw or pillar drill.


Check out more of Callum Brown‘s work here, and read about other Pop My Mind artists on our blog including print maker Steve Joyce and previous invention award winner Emily Godden.

Interested in joining Pop My Mind and winning awards for your creative content? Click here to get in touch with us!

Interview by Karis Lambert