Artist Interviews 2022
Mike Van Dam
By Rebecca Adele
Mike Van Dam is a Dutch/Australian artist who creates beautiful sculptures out of stainless steel chains. Since his very first exhibition in 2013, Van Dam has continuously pushed his creative abilities with bigger and harder sculpture designs. He has sold pieces to private collectors in Greece, Israel, Australia, and many more.
When I came across your work I was amazed by the designs and the detail in your pieces. How long have you been designing sculptures made from stainless steel chains? What brought you to creating art in this medium?
I created my first Sculpture in 2010. I’m a sheetmetal worker by trade and never thought that I would be making sculptures from chains. In late 2019 I went to a sculpture festival here on the Gold Coast in Australia, and decided I would try and create a sculpture. I was doing some repairs on a boat at the time and was using a piece of chain on a handrail. My mind was full of the possibilities of what I could create (I don’t think I slept for 3 days). :)
The chain you use are 4mm and 6mm 316 marine grade stainless steel, is there something special or unique about this type of steel that you continue to work with?
Stainless Steel was the material that I was taught to weld as an apprentice, I also wanted to use a material that I knew would withstand the elements and the test of time.
Many of your pieces are inspired by marine life such as your dolphin sculptures, seahorse sculptures, the breaching whale, etc.
Would you say the Gold Coast has inspired you over the years and how do you continue to find new inspiration or ideas?
I love the ocean, swimming and snorkeling. A lot of my clients live near the beach and coastline. I guess it’s a bit of a combination of what I like and what I think would appeal to people living so near the beach. I imagine that if I lived in the ‘Outback’ I would be making Kangaroos, Koalas and Dingos.
You've done amazing commission work as well. What would you say has been your favorite? Is there any shape or design that has been the most difficult? I'm imagining the "Emerging Dragon" sculpture.
"Emerging Dragon” was both my most challenging piece, and a career defining piece. I have 12 year old twins (Boy, Girl). When he was 5, my son Jack said, ‘“Dad make a dragon”. I wanted to make it large and imposing. It’s been on display in many locations, and definitely draws attention. It was created from 4000 meters of chain and has over 850,000 welds.
Your chain link sculptures seem very popular and are incredible to look at. You create links from two to six and say "For every action, there is a chain reaction". Would it be fair to say these chain links represent life and
our connection to the ocean?
I entered my first sculpture competition in 2013 with a large set of chain links called ‘Degrees of Separation’. For me, they represent no matter what we do, whether large or small, acts or spoken, every action has a reaction. A small word spoken in love or hate, can have a big effect on the person spoken to. Any small action we do now could have a larger effect on our lives in the future.
Your "These Hands" sculptures are shaped so realistic. Are they anyone's hands in particular? How long did this piece take to make?
’These Hands’ were created from a mold of my own hands, they were my first attempt at an anatomically correct piece and took 4 months to complete. I am currently working on my third pair, they are for a client and will be placed at the entrance of a large housing estate.
You've done many festivals and exhibitions in Australia and even Greece and Israel. When is your next exhibition and will you be coming to the states in the near future?
I am fortunate enough to have pieces on display in a gallery in Mykonos, Greece. From there, pieces have been sold to their clients in Israel, Cyprus and Turkey, among other places. I would really love to have my work in the States, but have not had the opportunity to do so……yet.