Steel sculptor’s hidden talent

Stephen Williamson, from Airedale, makes sculptures and furnature art in his spare time, out of wood and steel.'p4158c103
Stephen Williamson, from Airedale, makes sculptures and furnature art in his spare time, out of wood and steel.'p4158c103

MOST people with a skill as impressive as Stephen Williamson’s would take every opportunity to show it off, but it has taken years for this talented sculptor from Airedale to put any of his work on display.

Stephen, 49, a full-time steel worker, has kept his hobby under wraps for years and it was only when he was approached by a friend who wanted something special designing for Castleford Rugby Union Club that anyone outside his family would get a glimpse of his amazing skills.

The dad-of-two has been making sculptures out of wood for years, and has recently begun to create art out of steel.

A sculpture he created of two rugby players in a tackle has been proudly displayed on top of a stand at the club and is clearly visible to anyone driving along Willowbridge Lane.

Stephen said: “Not many people see my work to be honest. Everyone knows me, they see me out walking my dogs and I’m just a normal bloke, so I think they are impressed if they ever do see my work.

“The rugby sculpture took a couple of months, I went in the shed to do some work on it whenever I got the chance. It was my friend and ex-rugby player Robert Williams who asked me if I’d do it. It was him I made it for.

“When he saw it he was surprised because he wasn’t expecting anything like it and he said he was going to put it on display. It couldn’t have gone anywhere else really.”

The steel rugby sculpture is just one of many pieces of art that Stephen has created. His home is full of unique items of furniture including a large dark wooden television stand which Stephen explains was crafted out of old palettes, and a light coloured decorative box with ornate detail that has been carved out by hand.

Even the shed in the garden where Stephen carries out his steel work is something he created himself.

He said: “It used to be our gazebo. I made that gazebo a while back and we never used it and so when I started making things out of steel I turned it into a shed. It needed a metal roof to make it safe so I just changed it.”

Stephen is currently working on a display of steel flowers which he will mount outside his home. The intricate detail of each petal means it will take Stephen weeks to complete the project, not that he minds.

He said: “I enjoy doing it, Any spare time I get I go in the shed. We haven’t been on holiday for 12 years, I use my holidays to do my work.”

Stephen’s wife, Janet, does have to put her foot down sometimes. Stephen said: “I wasn’t allowed in the shed on Christmas day, which was fair enough, but I was pacing around, wanting to get out there.”

The items that Stephen creates are of such a standard that they wouldn’t look out of place in any high-end furniture shop but profit is never something that has crossed his mind.

“I make things for my family and friends. I’m a rubbish businessman, I almost never charge anything for the things I make. The only thing I charged for was the rugby sculpture and that barely covered my costs. I like making people the things they have asked for.

“I think art is something that comes from the heart. So first of all I get my inspiration from other people when they say what they want. Then my head starts going and I never make exactly what they want because I get carried away.”

Stephen has a few ideas for future projects but said that after receiving praise for his rugby sculpture and encouragement from Alison Drake, chairman of Castleford Heritage Trust, he would like to do something related to the town’s historic industries.

He said: “It makes me sad that industry we used to have in Castleford is going.

“We’re losing our industry and the only way forward is to remember our history though art.”