Who are you and why do you do what you do?
My name is Ptolemy Elrington and I make sculpture for a living because I would burst if I didn’t.
What, to your mind, is integral to the work of an artist?
Being honest with yourself, not cutting corners, not compromising and remembering to enjoy the journey.
How has your practice changed over time?
I’ve gotten better as I’ve gone along. Familiarity with the materials helps, but a sustained period of working also trains the eye to react more quickly and make fewer mistakes.
What other art form art do you most identify with?
Music. Undoubtedly. If I wasn’t driven to make sculpture I would be a musician simply because I love it so much.
What is your scariest experience?
Standing up and lecturing to five hundred people without any notes or preparation.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you.
Seeing people dressed in rags crawling over a pile of waste and salvaging every tiny piece of potentially useful material. That led me to the recycling ethos that drives my work.
As long as I can remember I have had the urge to create, and I find I can’t spend any length of time without doing something generative. When I’ve gone traveling, poems pour out, or I have to sketch. I’ve been lucky in that my parents have encouraged me to follow my chosen path.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
I mostly remember the negative ones… One in particular stays fresh in my mind, a scornful passing comment…
“It’s what they call art.”
…drew from me the haughty retort …
“How dare you Madam. It isn’t art – it’s a fish!”
What superpower would you have and why?
I would like to be able to permanently hover one inch off of the ground. I like the idea that most people wouldn’t notice and those that did wouldn’t be quite sure…
What is your dream project?
An aerodrome full of discarded airplanes, a giant forklift truck, an aircraft hanger to work in and a limitless budget. Oh—and a twenty year old body that never got tired.
What role does art and the artist have in society?
To remind the world that art is fun and that we need a lot of other things in life besides money. The essential nature of art is that art is something we cannot do without, because, we are nothing without a sense of wonder.
Name three artists you would like to be compared to and why.
Favourite or most inspirational place and why?
Barcelona. I’ve been there many times and I really like that city. Gaudi is a big part of it of course, but it has always felt right when I’ve been there.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Pick your battles. Specifically in regards to child rearing but I have found it’s a useful adage to live the rest of my life by.
Professionally, what is your goal?
To keep on making art and to keep on enjoying myself until I don’t have the strength to pick up a pair of pliers.
What couldn’t you do without?
Sculpting, music, motorcycles, and single malt.
Ptolemy Elrington was born in 1965. Since completing his art education in 2002 he has been working as a professional sculptor. He works with recycled materials incorporating a regenerative eco-aware theme in all his work. Clients include R.S.P.B., The Environment Agency, Thames Barrier, Ronseal, Kenwood, Ecover, East Coast Trains and both Essex and Brighton County Councils. His work has been displayed in numerous venues in London and the south-east of England, and has travelled to exhibits in Ireland, Greece, Spain and Russia. He is currently working on several private commissions in addition to his own work. At the moment he lives in Brighton. He can be found online at the links below.