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Junkyard dog: Transforming scrap metal into practical street art

Te Aroha scrap metal sculptor Adrian Worsley brings art to the street.

If you’re looking for somewhere handy to park your bike in Te Aroha while cycling the Hauraki Rail Trail, one option is slotting it into a scrap-metal creation by Adrian Worsley.

The local business association initiated the street-art project and so far Worsley has completed three of 10 bike racks that will dot his hometown’s main street: an obliging dachshund, a racer bunny and a Model T truck that children can sit on and “drive”.

Worsley’s workshop and gallery are open to tourists, who nosey around the neatly lined walls and shelves from which he plucks his favoured materials: “Farm machinery parts, hand tools, anything old and rusty with character.”

For 13 years, Worsley crafted furniture from stainless steel and fitted out bars, cafes, commercial kitchens and homes – mostly in Auckland and Queenstown, but also Te Aroha’s Ironique Cafe – in what he calls his “rustic style”.

His first foray into “the art world” was a handcrafted wine rack that quickly sold; a commission from the Waikato Museum’s ArtsPost soon followed. He opted for a single hero piece: a Triumph motorbike, which took him 300 hours to complete.

Since then, he’s used scrap metal to make schoolkids, a printing press, tractors, peacocks, and even a horse-motorbike hybrid for a couple’s wedding anniversary: “She liked horses, he liked motorbikes.” A cow sitting on a suitcase was commissioned by Morrinsville’s House of Travel as part of the town’s cow-sculpture trail.

“I never do anything the same. I’m always looking for a challenge,” he says. “That’s what I love about it, you get to make it up as you go along. Mistakes are often your best pieces.”

Worsley’s partner, Tessa, is his marketing manager, and a local scrap-metal dealer sources materials on his behalf. “Also a lot of locals drop off stuff when they’re clearing their sheds. I love that it’s something that would normally be thrown away and I’m managing to reuse it.”


This was published in the April 2017 issue of North & South.

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