Next time you drive past Bilpin Afire (used to be Apple Bar) in Bilpin look out for the weather vane and corrugated iron green apple on its roof.  Both the vane and ‘iron’ apple are the work of local artist Scott Leonard of Sylvan Close.  

Although his works are indisputably artistic Scott may be more comfortable with the titles of welder, metalworker or blacksmith; perhaps a combination of all of the above would best fit.

Scott fashions recycled materials, predominately metal, into both functional and ornamental objects designed to live in the garden.  He uses barbed wire, copper piping, metal plates and rods to form functional artworks such as bird baths, hoops to hold hellebores, tripods for staking delicate plants, weather vanes, ornamental gates and garden seats.  

One seat uses iron bark wood from the Pilliga forest mounted on a leaf spring claimed from a Land cruiser.  A stroll through the garden provides glimpses of a small army of delicate wire dragonflies resting in bird baths and appearing to be feeding on plant beds. 

My sense of whimsy was sent into overload upon being introduced to Fred; he is a giant dragonfly lying face down on a lawn, his legs are in the workshop and his wings lie beside him in wait for his metamorphosis. Although he looks quite capable of flight Fred weighs well over 100 kilos.

Many of Scott’s pieces reflect his love of the rustic, rural and organic.  He has spent time as a jackeroo; he has studied and teaches horticulture. 

His range of handcrafted pieces are all made to last a lifetime, many giving aged metal a second life.  No two pieces are the same.  He can even turn his hand to chainsaw carving, turning logs into furniture.

Scott’s works have been sold at Parkers of Turramurra, North Manly Nursery and Palmland at Belrose.  He welcomes viewings of his work at Sylvan Close on appointment on 4756 2011, (mob) 0421 986 199,  or email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

First, the idea of the gate was from the Historical Society, wanting to make access a bit more obvious to the general public. Tim approached me with an old gate that Wendy had found on Wynstay, but frankly, it was beyond help. So we started with a blank canvas. I also was happy to give something back to the Historical Society that has worked tirelessly to preserve what little history we have left. I never really start with any diagrams and Tim never made any suggestions.I just thought, what's the purpose of the art-piece I'm making? And away we go. 

I just draw a mental picture in my head. It's the same with all my work.

So it's the entrance to the Turkish Bath right? Now call me old fashioned, but some of the folks floating around nowadays aren't the sharpest tools in the shed, so I thought it would be best to incorporate 'Turkish Bath' into the gate to spare Peter having people wander into the gate house.

Second, I wanted it to be a bit old school with the tempered steel latch, like the other gates on Wynstay, and as a bonus, they are childproof. So the body is hand shaped cold from various diameter steel bars. I bend it cold because I get smoother radiuses than if I heat it in the forge. It's a slow process of bit by bit. I lay it on the ground, stand back and ponder. If it looks right, it usually is. So I start at the base and slowly work towards the top. 

The copper flowers start off as an 18 metre roll of 3/4" annealed copper pipe. I cut the pipe into 3 metre lengths, then cut it lengthways. Then I cut them into little lengths of 55 mm, with pliers I then bend them flattish, then onto the anvil to beat the crap out of them. I end up with a roughly square bit of copper. I weld a length of 4 mm fencing wire to the centre of it and then with shears, cut the copper 8 times radiating out from the base of the stem. I hand bend it roughly into the shape of a rose bud then it goes onto the end of my anvil, and with a soft face hammer, shape it further. It's fiddly stuff. The small leaves are 4 mm fencing wire heated in the forge and then beaten flat on the anvil.

The latch is heated and cooled in a way that gives it spring. The same process the blacksmith at Wynstay would have used 100 years ago. It's a nice gate and will be here for a long time to come with the odd coat of used motor oil. 

Scott Leonard 

www.metalartgarden.com.au

Taken from the February 2013 Mt Wilson & Mt Irvine Historical Society Newsletter.