handmade in hebden bridge
Absolutely wonderful service!
Arrived promptly and perfectly and she loved it - a huge smile and happy memories of chasing hermit crabs in Milne Bay Papua New Guinea 30 years ago!
Geckoman is John Noble-Milner
a wildlife sculptor
working in bronze and ceramics
passionate about the environment
a carbon neutral business
handmade in hebden bridge
using recycled metals
powered by renewable energy
offsetting carbon emissions
making beautiful sculpture
art to feel good about
doing less harm to the planet
Over the years we’ve met many wonderful and talented fellow artists and makers at fairs, markets and festivals. Sometimes we exhibit together as a pop-up gallery.
And we love getting out of the workshop and meeting all the lovely customers too!
We can’t attend any events at the moment so we hope you enjoy our little online gallery of beautiful handmade things.
January 20, 2021
Here's one of my latest open edition bronze geckos. All my work is online, that seems to be the way of things for now.
This last year has been quite challenging to say the least and it's still difficult to plan ahead.
Without events to exhibit at it's called for some lateral thinking.
I've just released coupon codes to my mailing list enabling a 30% discount on getting work made to order.
Free UK postage now as well, international shipping is just £10 per order.
January 24, 2021
I've been meaning to do some more photography of my bronze pipistrelles. This one's been ordered and is off in the post tomorrow, funny how it takes a deadline to get round to doing things!
I'll be making more of them of course so if you're interested in the sculpture check out my website
January 22, 2021
I was asked to make a dart frog using the customers photos as reference. So here are my first versions.
When I looked it up I found there are a lot of colour variants for Phyllobates vittatus, the Golfo Dulce poison dart frog. Definitely one I can play around with, I'll be doing more of these.
November 12 2020
First day of the Christmas Market.
It's kind of nice to be sat indoors in the warm writing this post... But today would have been the first day of St Nicholas Fair - the York Christmas market.
This is the first time in over 15 years that we've not been at the Christmas market, in the Made In Yorkshire marquee or the Christmas cabins.
We'll miss the Christmas atmosphere, the banter with our fellow Christmas traders, and of course the Christmas crowds!
It's all very different this year. It's not the same, but do look us up online when you start thinking about the Christmas market.
November 9, 2020
I've been making wildlife sculpture since the 90s when I started making stoneware pottery geckos. That gave me the nickname and so my business name. I'm still making geckos, the one pictured is bronze.
I'm very concerned about environmental issues. Climate change is a huge threat to humanity and is making massive changes to all ecosystems. We urgently need to think about how we live and what we're doing to the planet.
We're on renewable energy, it's a start. Everything needs to move away from fossil fuels. It will take thousands of years to undo 200 years industrial burning of carbon.
I remember learning at school about the problems we face with carbon dioxide levels rising. Around about the same time businesses went into overdrive to eradicate wage costs by doing all the manufacturing on the other side of the world!
So everything became disposable and so cheap as to have no value. Throw it away and just buy another one.
That's not really going to work out too well as a long term plan!
I make stuff here where I live. My workshop is the ground floor of my house.
Bronze is over 95% copper by the way, all of which is from recycled sources.
And once a year I put some thought into my carbon footprint. If I'm causing some carbon to be burned I'm prepared to pay into a scheme that plants trees to offset the damage.
So if you want to buy less stuff, but when you do buy something special it has some thought put into how it’s been made… that’s what I’m about.
October 21, 2020
Here's a pretty fearsome beast looking at you! My latest bronze mantis.
Based on Mantis religiosa the length of the head and body of this sculpture is 14.5 cm. Somewhat oversized as large females attain about 9cm in reality.
Previously I've patinated them in various greens. I like the way this patination shows the detail of the sculpture though.
October 13, 2020
I'm currently a couple of days (at least) behind everyone else involved with Hebden Bridge Open Studios - I was pretty busy at the weekend!
Some great stuff happened over the weekend. I got to have a chat with some fellow wildlife inspired artists and makers on the Sunday afternoon so a big thank you and a shout out for Sheila Tilmouth, Hannah Lawson, Toby Cotterill, and Pam Crofts.
October 13, 2020
Q. What is your life outside of being an artist? Did you do something else before or do you have hobbies or passions that aren't related to art?
A. My life outside of being an artist.
It’s all part of who I am. There’s not really a separation. I’ve got a lot better at the work discipline of getting up early and cracking on… and clocking off at tea time. I don’t stop thinking about it though. Ever.
I do have a life other than my work. I love walking out on the hills. It’s beautiful around where we live, we’re very lucky.
I had a life before following this path as professional sculptor. It was a pretty similar outlook though. I’ve always been creative.
Setting up a quadrophonic sound system to create atmospheres, soundscapes and just plain silliness was a highlight for me. I could run it on 12 volt batteries so did all sorts of strange things with noises at raves, chill out rooms, festivals and parties.
I used to take a 4 track out into the field, spread microphones out and make really long recordings in true quadrophonic. And do things like take a bus or tube journey with a hidden DAT recorder and capture a recording of the whole thing.
Running three 4 tracks to mix and layer all these recordings, tinkering and tweaking sounds and putting this around music was great. Even did 6 way speaker set ups. It was all still art though… whatever you can get away with!
I've made quite a lot of noise over the years. Occasionally I like to think it bordered on the tuneful, definitely fairly rhythmical at times.
October 14, 2020
Everything about the world and the interconnected nature of all life is endlessly fascinating. The complexity that evolves over huge spans of time fills every niche that can be exploited to survive.
I don’t see any reason to it. It just is. If a species is successful at obtaining nutrients and conditions it can thrive in it will reproduce and continue.
We’re not separate from the world we live in. Maybe one day our descendants will populate other planets and further into space, but as it stands we’re here on this planet. Coevolving with every other form of life.
Are we any better than the insects or microbes or whatever survives if the environment changes in ways we can’t?
We’re conscious and we can think about it.
Fascinating. All life is fascinating. All life is an inspiration to my work as an artist.
And like many wildlife artists I have to mention David Attenborough. I was a kid when Life On Earth aired, already obsessed with animals and dinosaurs and the natural world, that was the most significant television of my childhood. I remember it so vividly and the book of the series was that year’s most amazing Christmas present.
That was my bible. I have all the David Attenborough series on DVD and could watch them over and over.
He’s always been vocal about the damage we’re doing, as he’s got older he’s not stepped back or quietened down. I’m hugely inspired by his stance on conservation and environmentalism.
Photo credits from Instagram: Dusky fruit bat @chienleephotography; Anthony’s poison dart frog & gold dust day gecko @mgkuypers; Crowned lemur @ronaldzimmerman.nl; Colombian hooded mantis @mnochisaki; Common toad @riccardomattea_photography; Australian freshwater crocodile hatching @rusomaweera Green; sea turtle from A Life On Our Planet @davidattenborough; David Attenborough with Rwandan mountain gorillas ©John Sparks
September 27, 2020
A look back at the piece of sculpture I made for the David Shepherd Wildlife Artist of the Year competition 2019, which was shortlisted and exhibited at the Mall Galleries in London.
I wanted to make a statement about plastic in the environment and how human activity is degrading ecosystems everywhere. Seahorse populations have declined tremendously, some species facing extinction as a result of habitat loss and overfishing especially for the Chinese medicine trade.
The pair of ceramic seahorses at first look beautiful clinging to seaweed drifting in the current until you realise they're hanging onto a ripped-up piece of polythene.
The title of the piece in full is the short poem that came to me while I was making it:
Under anthropocene seas
An ocean of plastic
Floating, slowly sinking
Marks our place on the brink
Of a mass extinction
As indifferent to our existence
As we are to the mess
We can't stop ourselves making
September 29, 2020
How did it all start..?
Like a lot of things, through a series of happy accidents. Studying Botany at university I started a pottery class as I'd really liked pottery at school and missed it, that maintained an interest in ceramics. A few years later my Dad retired and bought a wheel and kiln. We had a lot of fun making the neighbours lights flicker when we were firing into the night. One of the joys of rural life at the end of the power line.
During the summer of 1996 I made two press moulded stoneware geckos, this is one of them. Excuse the poor quality image, it was taken from a Facebook post from years ago from a scan of a photo long since lost.
I'm still making geckos but mostly in bronze these days
September 30, 2020
So... Hebden Bridge and life here as an artist.
I love this town and how much creativity there is here. We've a population of about 4,500 - the kind of size town where you know a lot of people to say hello to. For such a small town to have 92 artists involved with Open Studios is pretty impressive.
It's very beautiful around here so it's inevitable we're something of a tourist destination, but that never really feels like an intrusion to me. Lots of walkers and ramblers so it's not tacky nick nack shops and arcades. Lots of lovely cafes, restaurants, pubs, bars and quirky little independent shops.
A good place to be vegan, especially if you're a walker who likes to do the kind of pub crawl that could take in a few country pubs over ten miles of beautiful scenery.
Fair to say we're a resourceful and resilient lot. We've been flooded a few times and the town pulls together, there's great community spirit. We get back up, adapt and get on with it. The fact that we flood and that's become more frequent and severe means a lot of folk here are particularly aware of climate change and the need to do something. Environmentalism is at the forefront of a lot of people's minds here.
It's the kind of place you could walk up a hill and see a 200 foot image of Greta Thunberg had suddenly appeared. Shouldn't every school make a sand picture like that on their playing field at least once a year? Lots of thanks to Sand In Your Eye for helping that happen. You should see the kind of art they do!
And of course, we have the legendary Trades Club! Quite possibly the best small music venue in the country. It's been a hard year in lots of ways, seeing the Trades' doors closed for so long has been particularly painful. Anyway, being Hebden Bridge we won't let The Trades go under. Over a thousand people chipped into the recent crowdfunder. The club will be back better and stronger than ever once this pandemic is over.