Metal Guru

Local artist Kev Paxton – blacksmith turned sculptor – has been propelled into the art world faster than you could say ‘highland coo!’

Starting out in 1989, Kev spent a decade learning the trade before setting up his own business. ‘K Paxton Blacksmith’ was established in 1999, where Kev’s artistic flair in the smiddy soon shone through. Compliments about his beautifully crafted steel roses would lead to increasingly extravagant requests, and from this ArtFe was born.

ArtFe is Kev’s metal sculpture business; collaborations with artists such as Steven Brown and the Bliss Art Trail soon followed, and continue to make clear that so-called ‘scrap’ metal is no such thing once Kev and his team get to work.....

From giant flowers and highland coos to peacocks and pirates, Kev’s creativity and eye for detail knows no limits. Pieces have been commissioned from all over the country, and can be spotted at the likes of Edinburgh Airport and even Buckingham Palace (where Her Majesty owns a small coo).

With such interest in his pieces and commissions firing in Kev was able to expand the workforce. Angus Megarry joined ArtFe in 2011, his interest in metalwork stemming from a work experience day.

The next addition to the team was Paul Cameron in 2014, who joined Kev after a short spell working in the construction industry. Deek Bennet is the newest and youngest recruit to the smiddy, and is already famous for the ‘banter’ which keeps the team entertained. One of Kev’s biggest achievements to date has undoubtedly been his partnership with RHASS in 2015, to celebrate 175 years of the Royal Highland Show.

To mark the anniversary, ArtFe was commissioned to make 175 of their famous 3ft highland coos. No two were identical and each was individually numbered.

Unsurprisingly, many of the sculptures were snapped up by guests visiting the show. Coo Number One (‘Rosie’) was presented to the Queen, as she is patron of the show – one of five now owned by the Society. The ArtFe boys also have a softer side, with a recent sculpture raising over £8500 for charity.

The sculptures themselves make a stunning addition to any home, garden or estate; ageing with the elements, the steel turns a beautiful toffee-coloured hue (like a typical highland coo) and adds character to what essentially becomes an ever-changing piece of art. Kev’s work can be viewed at other shows, such as the Scottish Game Fair, as well as at his workshop. Each piece is individually handcrafted to the commissioner’s exact specifications, and is made with great skill and precision. The only limit to Kev’s work is your imagination! TC

Published: Feb 2017

Return to features