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Zimbolic are a company creating art from recycled metal

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Author: Thomas Hadfield, Posted: Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 09:00

Zimbolic’s pheasants are amongst their most popular sculptures Zimbolic’s pheasants are amongst their most popular sculptures

Zimbolic are a company who specialise in creating stunning sculptures from recycled metal.

Established in 1998, the Gretton-based company works with artists in Zimbabwe to produce lifelike models of birds and other animals.

Ben Hoadley works at Zimbolic and explains how he first got involved.

He said: “After travelling around New Zealand and South America with my girlfriend I wanted to get my teeth stuck into something back home and heard through the grape vine that there was a job available working for Zimbolic.

“I've always had a soft spot for Africa after several family holidays there when I was a child so I jumped at the opportunity.”

Ben, who lives just over the border in Ashton under Hill, now runs the business single-handedly from their unit, which is based on a farm in Gretton Fields.

“After falling in love with their artwork, we originally started importing stone sculptures,” he explained.

“These were very heavy and prone to getting damaged in the container on their way over to us, so we moved onto metal wildlife sculptures that are far more robust.”

The name Zimbolic comes from a play on words of ‘symbolic’, and ‘Zimbabwe’, where the artists are based.

It’s important, says Ben, that the company support the artisans, their employees and local communities.

He said: “We have eight team leaders that have worked with us for many years now. They each have a team of skilled artists working for them to create the sculptures.

“We work together to create our unique designs and once we’re both happy with them, a price is agreed and they are paid 100% upfront so they can purchase their materials and consumables and keep the rest as a wage.”

The models are then made by the artists, before being shipped to customers throughout Europe.

Ben explains the process of making the models.

“Used steel oil drums are burnished and cleaned before the artistic work begins,” he continued. “The metal is then cut into the different elements of the sculpture using a hand-operated guillotine.

“These are then hammered into shape on a large wooden tree stump. A framework is welded together, then the components are attached to it to create the individual designs.

“Finally, the sculpture is dipped in lacquer, enhancing the patina of the metal and giving a protective coating for outdoor display.”

The artwork on offer includes a range of animals, from hedgehogs and pigs to insects and even 12ft tall giraffes.

However, a majority of the sculptures are of lifelike birds, and when it comes to personal favourites, Ben says his come under the avian category.

He added: “The pheasants are so life-like that they are hard not to favour, but I also love the geese that are made from reclaimed fridge and dishwasher panels!

“We always have a few designs in the pipeline; I’m particularly excited about a peacock that we have been working on for some time now and is coming over in our Christmas container.”

To keep up to date with new pieces by Zimbolic follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Zimbolicltd

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