10 Questions With Car Part Sculptor James Corbett

If you are a car enthusiast and have not seen the works of James Corbett, then you are in for a treat. James, is a car part sculptor from Queensland, Australia. He has been sculpting astonishing life like pieces of art using only car parts since early 1999. His unique works are found in all capital cities in Australia, while also being displayed in England, Switzerland, New Zealand, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and the U.S.A. Below you will be able to see amazing photos of his works, as well as read an interview we had with James Corbett.

PPN: How did you begin making sculptures from old car parts?

Corbett: At the time in 1999 my wife and I owned an auto recycling business.  I saw a trophy made from some gears and thought “I can do better than that” so I did.  I really enjoyed it and began to see more shapes in what I was surrounded with each working day and to also set myself more and more challenging subjects to “render”.

PPN: Where do you get your inspiration from?

Corbett: Anywhere, it could be a dog on the street, a car in a magazine or a nice piece of old car that “tells me” what it should become.

PPN: Why do you choose to make your sculptures from car parts and not some other material?

Corbett: Basically because as I said I was surrounded by them.  I wasn’t an artist looking for a new medium to use but rather a guy looking for a bit of an artistic outlet and the parts were there, and so was my welder.  Soon enough though I came to appreciate the character and time capsule like qualities of older parts.

PPN: Is it true that you do not bend or manipulate any of the parts?

Corbett: I don’t bend parts to suit, but I do cut them occasionally.  I try to stick to the rule that anyone who knows the parts should be still able to recognize it.  Rarely the parts may have been bent in a crash and I might use it.

PPN: Where do you find the parts for your sculptures?

Corbett: Swap meets mostly, scrap bins and some scrap yards.  I buy the cheap rubbishy bits at swap meets that most restorers wouldn’t use.  I am sure after I leave vendors go “I can’t believe some fool bought that”.

PPN: Have you always been a car enthusiast or did it begin with your sculptures?

Corbett: If it had wheels and an engine and could be raced it has always interested me.

PPN: Which sculpture is you’re favorite or most memorable?

Corbett: This is a hard question.  Many of them are favourites until I make the next piece better.  But the sculpture I most regret selling was an orang-u-tan made around a 1938 De Soto grille.  It’s eyes followed me around the workshop.  I actually seemed to miss his company after he left for San Francisco.

PPN: Do you collect or rebuild classic cars?

Corbett: I have a replica 1930’s Sprint car that I built using original old parts.  It has a “T” Ford chassis and a Flathead V8.  I raced it in Historics for  a while before I decided with great clarity whilst sliding it through a corner at 100 mph that it just might kill me.  I now race a Formula Ford.  I still own the Sprint car and an almost finished vintage style A Model Roadster Hi Boy.  I have done all the work on this car, and a lot of it is hand fabricated.  Other projects waiting in the shed are a “T” Ford speedster and a 1940’s Terraplane powered midget.  I find being creative with cars is a good tool to avoid “artists block” with my sculptures.

PPN: What is your favorite vehicle(s)?

Corbett: Bugattis, Millers and Ford GT 40s are long time favorites but fall into the “dream on” category.  My favorite car is one I saw in England, an ancient small wooden chassis G.N. cycle car fitted with a 308 cubic inch air cooled V8 World War I fighter plane engine, and topped off with a Millerish alloy body.

PPN: What advice do you have for young inspiring artists?

Corbett: Work hard, listen to your instincts and be your own harshest critic.  If it’s not quite right, it’s not at all right.

For More Photos Visit: www.JamesCorbettArt.com

Article and Interview By: Andrew Lindsey

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