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The Bold and the Beautiful

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The Bullsbrook workshop of Darnsie’s Dinkum Designs is buzzing with activity as farm and household scrap is transformed into grand installations by metal artist Dana Wakeford.

Darnsie’s Dinkum Designs started nearly 20 years ago after Dana was made redundant from a job in a small country town. With little other employment on offer, Dana took things, quite literally, into her own hands.

“I decided to dabble in the shed with hubby’s welder,” she says. “I got a few bits of junk from friends’ farms and turned them into art and gave them away for gifts. I had a lot of people suggest that I should sell them.

“It started as a hobby, a bit of fun and I realised I really like doing this.”

There’s no abstract narrative or artistic interpretation needed when viewing Dana’s sculptures. From her sizeable metal bull that was on display at this year’s Bullsbrook Country Fair, to larger-than-life seahorse Pearly, who was recently exhibited at the Cervantes Art Festival, what you see is what you get — much like Dana herself.

Viewing Dana’s art is a layered experience — from taking in the overall look of the sculpture and appreciating the grand scale of it, to going on a visual treasure hunt as you spot the familiar items hidden within — a spanner, car springs, axe head or railway spike, you just don’t know what you will find! And it’s one of the aspects of showcasing her art that Dana really enjoys.

“I like going to markets and talking to people about my art, seeing how excited they get to discover what’s in there. I’ll get farmers saying, ‘We’ve worked with all this stuff for so many years, but we just don’t see what you see!’” said Dana.

Dana relies heavily on her own creativity and visualisation when developing ideas. Having no formal art training and a self-confessed inability to draw, her creations are born from picking up a piece of junk and seeing a head or a face emerge. She may check in with a Google image along the way —usually to ensure the anatomical structures of her creatures are correct — but everything else in done by eye.

Dana has saved tonnes of scrap metal from heading to landfill over the years — her echidna sculptures alone contain over 200 spark plugs that would have otherwise been discarded.
“I feel we all have a responsibility to contribute in some way to eliminate waste. I have people give me stuff and say, ‘I’d rather you use it and make it in to something than it end up in landfill’,” she said.

While her materials are recycled, the finished products look anything but when they leave the workshop. Each piece is sandblasted and lacquered to a lustrous finish before going on display.

“I like to bring it back to a newer look,” explains Dana. “Even though it’s old and I’m recycling, I feel that the finished look appeals to more people.”

Dana doesn’t just specialise in large sculptures, as she wants her art to be accessible and affordable for all. Dana has plenty Dana has plenty of smaller pieces on offer for the home and garden, which are equally as beautiful and engaging as their larger counterparts. A butterfly made from horseshoes, a rasp file, nuts and bolts has been a popular recent addition to her body of work.
“I love creating, I love recycling, and I love seeing people’s faces and the end result. It’s a nice feeling — like I’m doing the right thing,” she says.

“It’s my gift to put out there for people to enjoy.”

You can check out Dana’s creations via her Facebook page, darnsiesdinkumdesigns