Wakefield First's Maker of the Month: April Key: Contemporary Sculptor

12 March 2024

April Key is a contemporary sculptor, who relocated to Wakefield from Istanbul to set up her studio and engage with the thriving community of creators. She's worked on a number of visually striking and fascinating projects and events, contributing to Wakefield's notoriety as the city of sculpture.

Wakefield First reached out to April to discover more about why she moved to the city, her favourite projects and the future of her work in Wakefield.

"I’m a sculptor who primarily uses neon glass and various plastics as base creative materials. Around 5 years ago, I began creating my work and developing my practice while living in Istanbul. Coming from an architecture background, I have always been interested in manipulating light through structure and color. This interest led me to discover neon glass making and general sculptural practice, two elements I strive to combine in my work. I am deeply passionate about retelling memories and historical stories through this visual language, drawing much inspiration from locality and individuals."

"Until early 2023, I was still based in Istanbul. Around that time I received a commission request for a commercial project in Northumberland, and I contacted ‘Neon Workshops’, who are a Wakefield based Neon making and teaching facility, with an internationally renowned reputation for delivering ambitious neon light projects. This project was ambitious to say the least, and together finished a ceiling-hung installation containing 86 individual pieces of illuminated glass, a project which took over 3 months from start to finish. After visiting back and forth between my location and here, I decided to relocate and set up my studio in Wakefield full time to be close to the facilities, which they offer to any aspiring neon maker who wants to learn how to make their own neon. In Yorkshire, and perhaps across the UK, it’s the only place I know who are regularly providing a varying degree of neon making courses and possibility to hire out facilities. Not to mention a great cup of tea!"

"Last September, in collaboration with fellow artist Richard Wheater (and also Neon Workshops founder), we hosted a one-off music and light event at 7A Project Space. Inviting over Swedish band ‘Weils’, we created individual neon light installations in which the illuminations were choreographed alongside the music. Performers from Wakefield based CAPA college were also part of the evening, which really boosted the inclusivity and community aspect of the event. This opportunity allowed me to exercise the possibility of more large-scale installation experimentation, as well as boosting accessibility to the arts and music culture for the local community. Producing an event such as this, in which such a collaboration occurred, was really special for me and definitely a highlight of my career so far."

"I’m currently working on a new series of works which I hope to launch for an exhibition, experimenting more with materiality such as 3d printing for ceramics and recycled plastic. I’m always on the look-out for new opportunities within Wakefield, and to collaborate with other organisations here again!"

Find out more about April and her incredible work by visiting her website and social media channels: