5 September 2023

Lockhart festival showcases brilliance of scrap metal farm art culture

| Vanessa Hayden
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metal sculptures of ibis

Last year’s winner of Lockhart’s National Farm Art Award was Grahame Edmonds with his cleverly designed Bin Chooks. Photo: Matt Beaver.

Gone are the days of picking up scrap metal for next to nothing for a backyard garden art project you had in mind.

The popularity of scrap metal art and the rise in this sculpture culture means resources are becoming harder to find.

You could pick up a pile of farmyard junk at a clearing sale for a few dollars, but these days specific pieces are in hot demand.

“It’s become a really popular art form for various reasons,” says Matt Bye from Wagga Wagga’s Old N Dazed.

“People are really getting into it and everyone can relate to metal farm art in some way.

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“They can see how various parts have been used to create something whole and they can identify which farm parts they might have once been.

“A metal art sculpture is a very good discussion point.

“I think people also appreciate the environmental aspect of reusing and recycling discarded items to create something.”

metal horse sculpture

Horses are a popular feature every year. Photo: SOTL.

There is beauty in scrap metal art and ingenuity. Turning old into new and combining different pieces into something eye-poppingly original.

Matt says parts used can include scarifier points, plough discs, car springs, shovels, picks, railway pins and tie plates, header and combine fingers, horseshoes and the majority of old farm tools.

The skills and imagination of this art form are no better demonstrated than at the Spirit of the Land Festival, coming up in Lockhart on the second weekend of October.

metal horse sculpture

Scrap metal artists will be hard at work this month putting the finishing touches on their entries for the 2023 National Farm Art Awards. Photo: Vanessa Hayden.

The National Farm Art Award is part of the weekend event and attracts some of the country’s best sculptors, who vie for the title and the $10,000 prize money that comes with it.

“Lots of people have been chasing scrap metal recently and certain parts are very hard to find,” said Matt.

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A past competitor, he says it helps to have some sort of artistic flair if you want to give the art form a go.

“You need to be able to see the piece in your head first and picture what you are going to make,” he said.

“You’ve got to come up with the idea of what you want to do and then work out what the key pieces will be – for its shape and desired effect – and how it will be executed.

“It takes a bit of time, effort and thought and is quite involved in getting it all to work.

“But you have to be able to visualise it, that’s how I do it, anyway. In saying that, though, I think anyone who had an interest could give it a crack!”

And give it a crack they do.

Spirit of the Land committee president Peter Veneris says each year they receive anywhere between 60 and 80 sculptures of all shapes and sizes, from very small to very big.

metal sculpture of Australian coat of arms

Organisers expect between 60 and 80 sculptures to be submitted for the 2023 event. Photo: Supplied.

There are seven categories, including Local Artist (for those living within 50 km of Lockhart), Creative Cocky (practising or retired farmer), Small Sculpture (less than one metre high and wide), Youth Artist (under 12 and 12-18), and the Free Spirt award, which allows for more contemporary works that don’t necessarily reflect ”farm art”.

“Our major award is sponsored by Lockhart Shire Council,” said Peter. ”It is a non-acquisitive award, and award winners will retain ownership of their artwork; however, the winning piece must stay on display in the Lockhart shire for 12 months.”

In addition to the major award of $10,000 is $6000 in prize money for winners. The popular people’s choice award attracts between 1500 and 2500 votes and gives visitors the chance to have their say on which sculpture they thought was the standout piece.

In addition to the National Farm Art Sculptures awards, the festival includes fine art, photography, Indigenous exhibitions, open garden tours, farm tours, boutique markets, vintage cars, live music, children’s entertainment, food and wine, and spectacular fireworks. More than 4000 people are expected to attend over the weekend.

More information and the full program can be viewed on the Spirit of the Land Lockhart website.

Original Article published by Vanessa Hayden on Region Riverina.

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