Metal has always been a popular medium for artists since ancient times. This fascination for metal continues even today with newer materials and techniques expanding the artistic potential. Read on to find out how modern artists are using metal to create beautiful works of art. This article also explores the role that architectural products such as those from Locker Group play in an environment where the line between art, building and commerce has blurred.

Abdul Qader al-Na'ib's scrap metal sculptures

A 24-year-old artist in Baghdad, Abdul Qader al-Na'ib scavenges scrap metal at dump yards or in the streets, welding the pieces together to create robots, vehicles and animals. With just a couple of years in scrap metal, Na'ib now has sculptures on display in schools and ministries, and has opened a workshop where the public can admire and purchase his pieces.

Na'ib likes the medium of scrap metal not only because it is unique, but also because it reduces waste.

Richard Serra's steel plate creations

Richard Serra is an American artist fabricating large-scale abstract sculptures from steel plate. His 2006 piece ‘Sequence’, for example, is 67 feet (20 metres) long and weighs more than 200 tonnes. However, the artist has also drawn criticism for his work. One of his early pieces from 1981, ‘Tilted Arc’, a 12-feet high and 120-feet long steel wall running through the middle of Federal Plaza in New York, received numerous complaints from locals. The piece was dismantled following an extended legal battle, and removed less than 10 years after it had been installed.

Serra's later sculptures have been better received, and his work was celebrated in a career retrospective at New York's MOMA in 2007.

Jeff Thomson's corrugated iron animals

New Zealander Jeff Thomson specialises in sculptures made from corrugated iron, creating animals, letterboxes and other common objects – he once covered a Holden station wagon in the material. His work has a sense of humour and play to it, and he has engaged everyday New Zealanders with public works such as populating Auckland's Albert Park with a herd of corrugated iron elephants in 1985. Though Thomson has worked in wire netting and plastic, it is his corrugated iron work that is most well known.

The artistic potential of Pic-Perf

An architectural product that sits on the threshold of structural and visual art, Pic-Perf allows you to recreate any image with perforated holes in a metal sheet. Quite popular in practical architectural applications such as partitions, balustrades or sunscreens, Pic-Perf can also be used for purely aesthetic purposes such as signage or decoration.

Pic-Perf images work on the same principle as half-tone printing, with the size of the holes determining the tone of the image. Different materials can be used with different finishes, allowing versatile design. Pic-Perf images can be made small enough to be hung on the wall similar to a traditional piece of art, or big enough to cover an entire wall of the building. The perforated metal sheets are long-lasting and can be relocated, so art created as an installation doesn't necessarily have to be confined to its original setting.

Locker Group offers a broad range of products ideal for use in diverse applications that go beyond the purely functional. In addition to creating striking sculptural art, these products can be used to combine art and function for unique design outcomes.