I grew up on a farm and learned from an early age that a ‘clearing sale’ was often the end of a farmer’s career. All the kit and gear of a lifetime is lined up organised in lots to clear so that the new bloke can start with a clean slate. Among genuine trash can be found quality tools and machinery of yesteryear that have been superseded and made redundant by the march of progress. Such was the case with a crate of old spanners picked up from a clearing sale at Booroowa, NSW, in 2011.
I was intrigued by the spanners, their look and their story. They were in fact so dated that in this age of socket sets and adjustable wrenches I thought surely no one else would be interested. So I decided to bid for them with a $5 limit. The bidding started at $10 and with no bids dropped to $5 and, again with no bids, an invitation for offers. To my side someone offered $2, I offered $5, he bid $7 and so I countered with $10. For a lot of spanners that no mechanic could use! My bid succeeded. As we moved on I turned and asked what my competitor would have done with them. He said “Scrap metal. I get $1 per kilo”.
So I had about 10 KG of spanners. What to do with them to save them from the scrap metal yard? The crate contained 15 spanners of all description and have to date been the material for 2 framed sculptures. One is displayed in a copper display cabinet in the foyer in a simple frame of old Australian Red Cedar. Here they contribute to the elemental gallery feel of the foyer and are a personal tribute to the artisans and trades of another era.