By Gabrielle Hall
Tony Howard is the Barossa Valley’s own heavy metal star.
Not in a head banging kind of way – more in a twisting, turning and sculpting fashion.
From his Steel Sculpt workshop at Angaston, Tony’s metal art designs are fast gaining a name for themselves.
With signature fire bowls painstakingly created to last forever, garden sculptures and abstract art pieces, the business has given the qualified boilermaker an outlet for his creativity.
“I’ve always been into art and it really progressed from welding bits and pieces together and one day I made a piece for a family member out of recycled material and it snowballed from there,” Tony says.
“I just love to be able to create things, I like the element of design and I love to make things bulletproof and built to last.”
His ‘bulletproof’ approach to art was born from a lifetime in the mining industry, following in his father’s footsteps and his grandfather before that in the family’s Barossa quarry business, as well as working in mines in far north Western Australia and Victoria.
However his creative side kept tugging away, and Tony’s desire to learn more led him to a mature-age apprenticeship, a ticket in heavy metal fabrication and the decision to take a leap of faith to focus on his art.
Tony is also a qualified blacksmith, sharing his skills as a regular volunteer at the Angaston Blacksmith Shop.
“Blacksmithing really is a dying art and it’s nice to keep it going,” he says.
“I love being able to get a piece of red hot steel and manipulate it into something functional.”
A jack of all trades, Tony has even turned his hand to chainsaw sculpting, and loves to “mix the elements” incorporating steel with limestone, granite and wood.
His art works have been on show at a number SA Living Artists (SALA) exhibitions and will be on display at Rymill Wines during the Penola Coonawarra Arts Festival (May 17 – 20, 2018).
Tony’s home workshop between Angaston and Nuriootpa is hard to miss, with an android robot made out of 1956 Dodge car parts, shearers combs and LED lights for eyes welcoming customers in to see him at work and maybe purchase a piece or two.
“It’s definitely one of my favourite pieces and it’s famous in the Barossa,” he says.
“I love to use recycled materials and I’m always out and about looking for stuff, I’ve made a few things from old 1950s car bonnets and roofs in great 50s pastel colours.
“I’d really love to do a bit more creating and build on my blacksmithing skills too in making more old-style farm gates as well as modern style gates.”
See Tony at work at 274 Angaston Road, or take a look at his website.
Top image: after a lifetime in the mining industry, Tony Howard followed his passion for creating and designing to launch Steel Sculpt from his Angaston workshop. Photo by Brad Griffin Photography.
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