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Thomas Westra, International artist
I began my working life as an electrician, installing elevators for a large company. Feeling discontent after eight years in the industry, I needed a change in life and decided to take twelve months off and focus on exploring my own creative passions.
My creative pilgrimage led to many experiments in woodcarving, clay modeling, metal casting, steel sculpture, and furniture design. I felt most comfortable with the forging of hot steel and found exploring its creative possibilities very exciting.
Since 1996 my work has been based on metal art and furniture design, completing many commissions while continuing to work on my own concepts.
One of my challenging projects over the years was creating a forged steel gazebo with artisans Paul Westra and Brian Webb for artist Fiona Hall in year 2000. The "Folly for Mrs. Macquarie" as it is called is installed in the Botanic Gardens, Sydney.
I have exhibited at the Australian Craft Show since 2001 and on a weekly basis at the Old Bus Depot Markets, Kingston.
In 2004, I was selected by the Australian Tourist Commission to exhibit in Singapore as part of "Celebrate Australia".
My main body of work has been the creation of forged steel lizards, and sculpting them into a variety of expressions, each instilled with life and movement.
Currently, I make a range of lizards. Some functional pieces such as the loo lizard, bottle lizard, hat & coat hangers, hook lizards, towel holder lizards, door handles and a table lizard. Other lizards are more free-form sculpted works for inside or outdoors.
By using blacksmithing techniques to shape the hot steel, I am able to give each piece its own individual character so that no two of them are ever the same and create a unique style that has become my metal art.