Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Artist a Real Metalhead; Retired Fisho John Olsen Sees Past Scrap and Rust, and Gives Them Life

Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Artist a Real Metalhead; Retired Fisho John Olsen Sees Past Scrap and Rust, and Gives Them Life

Article excerpt

Byline: Doug Gillett

WHEN retired commercial fisherman John Olsen sets his eyes on disused farm machinery, he sees more than just rusted heaps of scrap metal.

The rusted-out remains of tractors and earthmovers, weathering in scrap yards and paddocks across the region, are in fact works of art that need to be beaten, welded and sanded back for their true beauty to be revealed.

The accomplished sculptor can look behind the oxidisation and stress fractures of tangled wrecks of steel and iron to unearth their true artistic potential.

Over the past 23 years, Mr Olsen has amassed a collection of curious metallic creatures that represent his interest in strange prehistoric beasts and ancient cultures.

Visitors to his Svensson Heights home needn't bother asking for directions or a street address. There are no lawn gnomes here. Forget rose bushes and chrysanthemums. Mr Olsen has decorated his front yard with a towering sculpture of a tyrannosaurus rex stalking its prey and an imposing knight readying for battle, both fashioned from locally sourced scrap metal.

The roaring dinosaur has a head made from beaten plough disks, an excavator belt as its tail, tracks from an earthmoving crawler as its feet and a trumpet for a voice box.

The proud knight has perforated steel body armour, protective chain mail made from the belt of a mini-backhoe digger, stove legs as feet and a fearsome sword made from an auger drill bit.

Mr Olsen came to sculpture late in life and doesn't really know where his talent for the form has come from. He credits some of his skills to building and fixing boats during his career as a professional fisherman.

C[pounds sterling]I don't really know why I do it,C[yen] he says. C[pounds sterling]You get some idea in your head, and rather than forgetting about it or losing it, you continue on with it and do something with it. …

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