Tim lives in statue

Tim remembered in scrap metal

Opinion
Andrew Whitehead and Jess with his statue of the late Tim Fischer AC.

Andrew Whitehead and Jess with his statue of the late Tim Fischer AC.

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Remembering Tim Fischer in steel has been an exciting journey for sculptor Andrew Whitehead.

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Andrew Whitehead has spent much of the last eight months in his studio on the family farm, Illawong, Urana welding a sculpture of the late Tim Fischer AC out of recycled pieces of farm machinery along with some elements which were especially made.

The immediate impression when first viewing the sculpture was Andrew's uncanny ability to capture Tim's likeness.

Captured in pieces of discarded farm machinery by Andrew is this uncanny likeness of late Tim Fischer AC.

Captured in pieces of discarded farm machinery by Andrew is this uncanny likeness of late Tim Fischer AC.

"That was the most critical part of the whole process," Andrew said.

"If it didn't look like Tim it was going to be a failure no matter how good the train or all the interesting bits and pieces were.

If it didn't look like Tim it was going to be a failure no matter how good the train or all the interesting bits and pieces were. - Andrew Whitehead, Illawong, Urana

"Tim's family have given very positive comments and they actually helped me with the process by coming here and looking at the face and giving me access to his wedding ring, clothing, his Akubra hat and his R.M Williams boots."

Andrew said Tim had made the Cattleman brand of Akubra quite famous and which Tim wore with pride throughout his career which included many years as parliamentary representative for the eastern Riverina culminating in a period as leader of the National Party and deputy prime minister.

Tim also served as Ambassador to the Holy See and was noted in recent years for his passionate interest in steam trains.

Andrew has bought those facets of Tim's life to the sculpture and he has also been conscious of paying tribute to Tim's military service in Vietnam.

''I thought I would only include his military service medals because the wide military community and especially those who served in Vietnam will recognise them and especially their significance."

It was through his service in Vietnam that Tim became interested in further serving his country in a public role, and Andrew who spent 20 years in the armed forces thought that commitment should be recalled through his statue.

"I contacted various organisations he was a part of through his life and asked them what the members would like to see in this sculpture," Andrew said.

"His Officer Training Unit was established at Scheyville in Sydney wanted his officer training unit badge because he always wore it on his suit.

"I have also put his infantry combat badge which the Vietnam veterans and most infantry soldiers would understand because it was only given to soldiers who have seen active service outside the wire."

Tim's service ribbons are placed on the lapel of the jacket and on the tie Andrew has placed a representation of Stephenson's Rocket steam engine.

"Tim wore a tie with that logo on it and I had the glass decals made in England and my wife Daphne incorporated them in three layers of glass," Andrew said.

"I have also included his old school badge, a cap badge from Xavier College, Melbourne which they were happy to donate and the Skippy badge which all Australian infantry will recognise is on the right lapel."

Tim was also awarded a Commendation for Gallantry which Andrew has included in the tribute.

Andrew's career upon leaving the Army took a turn when he returned to the family farm and Daphne encouraged him to follow his artistic instincts which she thought would help with his depression.

"I started by building a stupid looking cow and the week it was finished Lockhart had it's inaugural Spirit of the Land sculpture festival," he recalled.

"Against my wishes I took it over there because I was urged to do so but I won first prize beating what I considered to be very good professional artists."

With his picture in the paper and buoyed by a pocket full of cash, Andrew thought he might pursue that avenue as a new source of income as well as inspirational fulfilment.

However the only way Andrew could see of getting some immediate exposure was to build public art works.

"So I built a spider, I didn't think it was that great but it was pretty dramatic for people who hate spiders," he said.

"I thought it would look good if I could get it in a good location.

"So I approached the shire council and asked if I could make a donation and put it on the Urana water tower."

Once the spider was successfully installed, Andrew's artistic reputation spread and he became overwhelmed by requests to do individual public artworks.

"My first commission was for a horse at Morundah and by the end of July I will have 17 public artworks around Australia," he said. My artistic career has been a matter of luck, of good fortune with everything lining up at the right time!"

The statue will be unveiled at Boree Creek in late July.

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