Visual Communication students produce kinetic sculpture with artist Giles Walker

28 February 2023

Kinetic sculptor Giles Walker was invited to work with BA Visual Communication students to produce a temporary animatronic installation piece which is triggered by bespoke audio

The students worked with Giles Walker to learn the basics of animatronics, utilising remote controlled servo motors and Arduino boards to enable audio triggered movement. The audio was provided by Boff Whalley (of Chumbawumba fame) and The Commoners Choir who created a bespoke choral piece for the project inspired by themes of sustainability and transformation.

The final outcome was a beguiling installation with kinetic sculptural components which ’sang’ along with the voices of the choir.

Image: Visual Communication student installation

Giles Walker is a kinetic artist who has been building sculpture for the last 27 years. As a full-time member of the guerrilla-art group, The Mutoid Waste Company, he started building sculptures from materials found in scrapyards as the collective travelled around Europe. In the mid-nineties, he introduced basic motors into his sculptures and his work became kinetic.Giles has exhibited his work in many different countries around the world, including Japan, USA, Russia, and Ukraine. His solo shows have involved large kinetic, immersive, installations and have received great acclaim.

Lucy Bergman, Senior Lecturer BA (Hons) Visual Communication said: “It’s fantastic for our students to have the opportunity to work alongside industry professionals, particularly people like Giles whose practice has explored unconventional routes. His life experiences and hands-on skills add something unique to the mix which cannot be translated into an online tutorial or lecture. BA Visual Communication is all about sharing with purpose and Giles’ practice exemplifies this - how you can forge your own approach to making visually striking and meaningful work which can inspire real change.”

Will, a student working on the project commented: “I just love how his mind works, the way he solves problems in a very practical way, it made me go back and rethink what I was doing and find a different way to make it work"

Image: Giles Walker (far right) with students from BA (Hons) Visual Communication

Kinetic sculptor Giles Walker was invited to work with BA Visual Communication students as part of the Leeds Arts University Knowledge Exchange programme. The programme aims to offer students hands-on skills development opportunities with industry professionals to increase industry knowledge and professionalism. These experiences add something extra-curricular to student learning journeys and encourage students to engage with methods of teaching and learning which they may not necessarily receive from lecturing staff.