Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chris Bathgate is Engineering Art

You wouldn't expect a painter to piece together a custom brush bristle by bristle. A Photographer doesn't spend his time improving an optical lens made by cannon. Nor do illustrators make their own pencils or pastels.

Which makes Chris Bathgate a very unique artist: If he needs it, he builds it.

These are the mostly unforeseen works, the product of the Chris Bathgate process. Over the years necessity has prompted the formation of Computerised Numerical Control (CNC) machines (a large mill and two smaller lathes), Digitally operated kilns, electroplating tanks and anodizing equipment that you wont find in any gallery or private collection.

They stay away from the public eye, receiving praise and adulation only indirectly via the most fascinating of Chris's creations, his engineered art.

RN 753362224531143 | Copyright Chris Bathgate
Chris's journey of learning started almost a decade ago, with the purchase of a few tools and reading everything he could get his hands on. As the basics of manual machining were infused with his grey matter, he tackled the more difficult problems of building CNC tools, programming and Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Manufacturing (CAM) all from self guided research.

New techniques quickly became a part or the focus of new work that allow Chris to study and become fluent in from a practical angle and incorporate that into a visual design.

"I am extremely fascinated by the complexity and range of processes involved in machine work".

"I tend to look at most of my works as a visual solution to technical and logistical problems that arise during the creation of my work as combined with my visual ideas".

NT793323462242642 | Copyright Chris Bathgate
No piece desires to mimic the appearance of other objects. Regardless, the human ability to abstract, identify patterns and thus perceive a likeness wins out and objects come to life.

Chris manages this by straddling the line between abstract object and something familiar by halting the creative process as the object tends towards the later. In this fashion, a Chris Bathgate piece may be perceived to be many things by many different people.

For the same reasons, names are not given to Chris's work, instead each piece acquires a product identification number. This frees the viewer from any former presumptions allowing the totally uninhibited creativity of the mind to conjure it's own unique perception.

BC 443621141281783 | Copyright Chris Bathgate
SciFi and SteamPunk feature heavily in admirers opinions, though they do not explicitly feature in Chris's work as he often explains.

"I grew up with plenty of star Trek and Star wars in the background and countless other shows, but I do not read science fiction or make steam punk objects and don't necessarily consider it to be the thrust of my work".

Instead inspiration comes from learning of new techniques which then flows into the work as the artists intuition takes over to create the scene in which this technique may be adequately demonstrated.

"I also get a fare share of Architects and engineers who relate to my work purely on their particular speciality. It is certainly something I realize about my work and I neither embrace nor shy away from it".

RY555441253 | Copyright Chris Bathgate
Chris's creativity is moved in a different fashion to that of most artists.

An abstract idea or problem, assumes his thoughts, a solution awaits. Problems fuel the creative response, driving each piece towards an evolved form that stops before his work starts to resemble something real. A work of art is created leaving a path of exploration and of learning in it's wake.

It's clear that this is no ordinary process. Ergo this is no ordinary art. Ergo Chris Bathgate is no ordinary artist.


  1. I am a huge fan of Chris' work and find the processes as fascinating as the results. He is amazing.

  2. He is indeed a talented man. I was blown away by the fact that he's basically built his machines in order to build his work. A true crafts man.

    Thanks Tranjun.

  3. Thank you very much for writing such an interesting article on this topic. This has really made me think and I hope to read more. CNC Machining