Sunday, October 7, 2012

Madeline Lord: Art Resurrected from Junk

Madeline's first piece
cut with a torch
Over the past several months I have had the opportunity to meet and get to know a local artist named Madeline Lord.  I first introduced myself to her this summer as I had learned of her metal artwork through a client who proudly displayed several pieces in their garden.  Always wanting to have access to new inspiration and ideas, I visited her home and workshop here in Winchester and instantly fell in love with her art and found a wonderful person who is amazingly passionate about her work.

Upon learning that 15 of her pieces were going on display in the gallery at the Next Door Theater on Cross Street in Winchester, MA, I wrote a piece about her and her exhibit for the Winchester Star two weeks ago.  Unfortunately, the piece has not been posted online, but following is a narrative of my discussions with her.

Madeline's Show

Next Door Theater @ 40 Cross Street   


Gallery is open on Sundays from 3-5pm and one hour prior to performances or by appointment.

All of her pieces at the gallery are for sale, as well as many others that she has at her workshop.

Madeline also creates work on commission and loves to work with parents to transform children's art into metallic form.

Madeline has two websites for more information, one is her personal site and the second is her collaboration with photographer Bob Hesse:


In the early 1980’s, Madeline Lord met a Hungarian woman at a Bedford art show who needed a ride to her evening welding class at the Shawsheen Valley Technical School.   Madeline took her to class and soon joined the class and started cutting metal in 1983.  She had been a painter for most of her life but always wanted to create sculpture, and for many years after taking the class she created two-dimensional ‘pictures’ cut out of metal.

In 1987 she moved to her current home in Winchester and bought her first Welding Torch so she could make bases on which her sculpture could stand.

"Dan Rather" on the day of his
retirement from CBS
One day at the Winchester Transfer Station while collecting raw material for her work, she saw people throwing out their yellow, blue and even pink enamel painted appliances, and she knew that these colorful pieces of metal could add a critical element to her work.  Her pieces were still flat, but now had the additional element of color.

With the painted metal she started making animals and other items, and for the wedding of one of her children made doves with berried branches in their beaks.

"Umbrellas on Parade" in front of
the Winchester Public Library
While in New York City after 9/11, she was watching people in a rainstorm outside of Pennsylvania Station with their coats and umbrellas, and the umbrellas seemed to form a communal shield to protect the people from the elements.  This inspired her to create an installation of people under umbrellas that exhibited on the lawn behind the Winchester Library in 2005.

The exhibit was not permanent, and she replaced it with the “Umbrella Parade” sculpture that sits on the front lawn of the library today, which represents people getting together and finding communal protection in bad weather.

In 2005, one of her more transformational installations was the “Buddy Garden”, a metallic recreation of fifth grader’s art in metal form that sits in front of the school.  This turned her head to working in three dimensions.  After this she met Bob Hesse, a local photographer, and they started to collaborate on pieces.  As Madi says, two sets of eyes are often better than one, and they both have a keen vision for their pieces and shared vision for their work.

The "Buddy Garden" at Lynch School.  All of these pieces are connected
to an underground metal grid.  Each piece is a metal representation
of a Lynch child's piece of art

"Lascaux" named for the bull in
the Palaeolithic paintings in the
Lascaux Caves in France
Often it is a unique piece of metal that makes the piece, one day she was searching through piles of metal and "Hamlet" showed up.  One piece of metal sparked the idea and then a series of performers (Portia, Diva, Lear, Chanteuse) showed up, many of which are on display currently at the Next Door Theater gallery.

The body of "Lascaux" was instantly recognizable to Madeline, but it took her months to find the appropriate legs.  "Big Red" was formed with two wonderfully painted pieces of metal, but she had to take apart an antique typewriter for the keys to make the flower's stamens.

"Fallen Angel"
What makes her work fascinating is that you 'get it' immediately.  The pieces are recognizable but as you get close and see the different, common, elements that make them up, you are drawn in further.  Some pieces are relatively simple and the vision comes from one or two key elements, but others are this wonderful amalgamation of highway barricade, machine tool parts, stove parts, sieves, car parts and on and on.

"Big Red" with antique
typewriter keys as
flower stamens
She and Bob travel often to their scrap metal resource in Readeville, MA, for inspiration and carloads of rusty metal.  They let the metal pieces guide them in their creative process, and often find themselves switching pieces from one sculpture to another until they are complete to their satisfaction.  When spending time in her driveway she had separate piles of metal for legs, arms, bodies and then just a bunch of miscellaneous piles with interesting pieces.  Sometimes they have to wait months until they find the right scrap to finish a piece.

Brian Milauskas, Artistic Producing Director at the Next Door Theater has known Madeline for years and is happy to be showing many of her pieces in the "Performers and Patrons" show in his gallery.

This work is perfect for outdoor display on terraces or in gardens.  The metal benefits from a little rubbing of boiled Linseed Oil to give it a nice even patina.

I think the addition of a one of a kind piece like Madeline's can add year round interest to any garden or home.

"The Juggler"


  1. Very interesting! I love the Umbrellas on Parade sculpture, and I can see 'Big Red' in my own garden. Madeline is a gifted artist, and I admire her ability to take cast off junk and make something truly special of it. Her work makes me smile!

  2. I love the flower with the typewriter keys.

  3. Thanks for sharing this, Reed. I especially love The Juggler, which is reminiscent of some of David Smith's scrap metal work (which I have long fantasized about having in my garden!). Lord's work is a financially accessible version that I will have to seriously consider. -Jean

  4. This is awesome art! Thanks for sending me the link. I'd love to stick one of the fish in my rain garden stream bed. :o)