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Helen Hamada Transforms Machines Into Art

by Carola Lott
Wed Nov 18th, 2015

Hamada Artwork

Metal on Metal, an exhibition of photographs by Helen Hamada of some of Fletcher Coddington’s machine tools can be seen at the Millbrook School’s Math and Science Center. 

Beginning with the industrial revolution machine tools were used to make the machines that could make other machines. Blacksmith and co-founder of Arrowsmith Forge, Coddington has used many of these tools for over 40 years to make furniture and decorative objects. Several tools date back to the First World War when they were used to make bullets and weapons. Hamada’s lens transforms these objects of iron and steel into works of art. 

Artwork by Hamada

When Hamada first visited Coddington’s workshop on Route 44 she says, “I fell in love with the machine tools that serve as an extension of his hands to bend steel and iron into various shapes and sizes… I was captivated by their ‘individual personalities’ and knew instantly that I wanted to photograph them.”

And indeed these machines do have different personalities. Some are massive and imposing; others more delicate; some seem more human than machine; others are studies in abstraction with occasional accents of bright color. In a few the various elements seem almost like noses, eyes and mouths. 

An Artwork by Hamada

Hamada has printed her images on polished aluminum, which imparts a subtle sheen to the intricate details of these metal objects. Included in the exhibition are several photographs of the hand tools Coddington uses to form the objects he is creating with the large machines. Hamada has photographed these smaller tools against a plain background to give them the appearance of pieces of abstract sculpture. 

Hamada proves that an artist can transform something prosaic that many people might overlook into an object of considerable beauty.

The exhibition is open until January 29 M - F 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Saturday 8:00 a, to 1:00 pm. Sundays by appointment: bhaardy@millbrook.org.  closed during school holidays