Turning old metal into works of art

Martin Jaine Sculptures turn metal into works of art


Life & Style
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Did you see these amazing pieces of work at the IGA Perth Royal Show?

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FOR those who ventured beyond the livestock displays at this year's annual IGA Perth Royal Show, there was an amazing spectacle to be found just near the Members' Stand.

Covering some 680 square metres of the Claremont Showgrounds were about 1000 pieces of artwork created by Martin Jaine Sculptures.

But these eye-catching sculptures weren't just your regular garden variety pieces - the predominantly Australian native flora and fauna-inspired pieces were all cleverly crafted from a range of recycled materials.

The inspiration behind the business is Martin Jaine, who started his working life as a sheep and cropping farmer in New Zealand, before heading to the United Kingdom as a 20-something year old in the mid-1980s for three years.

Martin stopped off in Western Australia to visit a friend before returning to NZ, but it wasn't long before he relocated across the Tasman Sea permanently in 1989 after finding farming conditions tough.

It's amazing what you can use - I've even made bird baths out of old header parts - Martin Jaine

As someone who enjoyed working with wood, he took up a job within the local building industry until about seven years ago, when his lightbulb moment occurred.

"I bought an emu made out of barbed wire for my partner Jane (Bowen) for her birthday, and it cost a lot of money," Martin said.

"I just thought, I could make something like that myself."

So in 2011 he started making handcrafted sculptures as a hobby, selling them at market stands around Perth under the name Earlsferry Sculptures in a nod to the historic property Earlsferry House in Bassendean where he lived.

One of the first pieces Martin made was a bunch of flowers, using a bucket of leftover concrete from a building site and inserting 20 pieces of reinforced wire into it before fashioning the flowers once the concrete was set.

Things went so well that Martin gave up working in construction six years ago and has now built a business where he has three full-time employees creating pieces from rustic metals and other materials varying in price from $10 right up to $40,000 each.

It's ironic that his day-to-day life involves taking varying pieces of metal and fusing them together to create pieces of art, given that Martin despised welding as a farmer.

"It was my dad who was very resourceful and liked to tinker - he was more like an engineer than a farmer," Martin said.

"He had a wonderful collection of vintage cars and old parts, like Sunshine headers, that he could draw on to fix things, all the sorts of things that are hard to come by these days."

Martin said he could only dare to dream about the things he could have made from the collection on the family farm back in NZ, and was always on the look-out for pieces of old machinery which could be given a new lease on life.

For example, one piece he exhibited at the show was a crocodile made entirely from scarifier tips.

"It's amazing what you can use - I've even made bird baths out of old header parts," he said.

"It's endless what you can do."

When it came to making pieces Martin said it involved a combination of being inspired by the materials that were available and his surroundings, and creating art that had been requested.

For example, he had a pile of steel discs that he wasn't sure what to do with, until he saw some grass trees and set about recreating them.

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In another instance, he got a range of different coloured tin from a panel beater which he transformed into a spectacular boab tree.

Most of the pieces created by Martin and his employees Barry, Tom and Willie are categorised into six galleries - flora, geometric, multi-form, practical, signature and wild.

The flora range includes a range of delicate barbed and copper roses, through to iconic grass trees in different sizes and styles, while it is in the wild range where animals including emus made from link chains and realistic-looking horned rams created from recycled metal can be found. 

As the name suggests, there are also pieces that as well as looking spectacular, also serve a purpose available in the practical gallery, including fire pits, garden tables, benches and chain link chairs.

While Martin originally showcased the sculptures at markets, these days he concentrates on exhibiting at the IGA Perth Royal Show and the Perth Garden Festival, although some artworks were recently distributed at 14 different venues throughout the Swan Valley as part of the Entwined in the Valley sculptures trail.

Throughout the year customers can also wander through the 0.4 hectare gardens of Earlsferry House to view the sculptures between 10am and 4pm on weekends and by appointment during the week.

Here Martin and Jane also operate a bed and breakfast, which has led to a number of pieces being sold to clients, some from as far away as the United States, UK and Iceland.

Martin regards himself as extremely fortunate that he is able to liken his day-to-day working life to a playground, having fun playing with and making things all day.

"It is amazing what is out there amongst local industry that we can recycle and make sculptures from, and there is inspiration all around us of what to make, particularly when it comes to Australian plants and animals," he said.

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