David Murphy + WEC Group

In Practice, 2018

In an exploratory collaboration with artist David Murphy, seven apprentices from the engineering firm WEC Group drilled, folded and welded into existence seven flame-cut sapling-like steel sculptures, reflecting their journey of learning as they become skilled makers.

David worked with the apprentices in their purpose-built training school, to explore the discipline, repetition, potential and aspiration for mastery that has always been at the heart of apprenticeships.


Using factory processes taught at the academy, these sculptures were created with an emphasis on the use of manual processes, creating an installation at Prism Contemporary Gallery that was evocative of the apprentices’ fledgling careers in the world of manufacturing, and of the growth of industry in Lancashire.

I’ve also been an apprentice in that space – these guys have taught me things. I’ve learned new processes, things I’ve never done before and that’s been really valuable. It’s been a reciprocal process.

David Murphy


Graduating from the Glasgow school of art in 2006, David Murphy is known for his sculpture and works on paper. David is a recent recipient of the Kenneth Armitage Foundation Fellowship London (2015-17), and has exhibited widely both nationally and internationally. Recent exhibitions include: The New Art Centre, Salisbury, UK; Monica de Cardenas Galleria, Milan, Italy and at the British council, Cairo, Egypt.


Providing engineering and metalwork solutions for over 35 years, WEC Group is one of the largest engineering and fabrication companies in the UK, employing 800 staff and comprising of 15 companies operating in many industries including Aerospace & Defence, Oil & Gas, Nuclear and automotive. The Group also runs its own in-house Training Academy in Darwen, offering world-class engineering apprenticeships that creates highly-skilled, loyal employees who stay with the company long after their apprenticeship is complete.


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