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Fabricator, Patrick Knighton, has won the inaugural Kemppi Australia 2020 Art of Welding Competition with his sculpture, Whale Shark.
The regional competition was open to anybody over the age of 18 involved with the ‘art of welding’, and a diverse and quality range of entries were received.
The winning entry, Whale Shark is made from mild steel and is about 40cm long. It sits on a hammered base that helps give the illusion of a shadow. MIG welded, the sculpture was heated to achieve the desired color and the pattern then added to help bring the piece to life.
Winning the competition is particularly valuable for Patrick because he is not a trained artist. “I have never studied art or sculpting techniques, so receiving first place in this competition was a validation. It confirmed that I am indeed some sort of artist,” explains Patrick.
The 32- year-old focuses on his sculptures whenever he finds the luxury of time in between his fabrication work. According to Patrick, running his Perth-based business in Australia, Deadbeat Fabrication, is demanding and time-consuming. “There is always something to do – rust repairs on cars, fabricating bars, trolleys, furniture, and other structures, as well as paperwork. So, finding the time to immerse myself in metal sculpting is not easy but it’s something I love,” he says.
Patrick first discovered his interest in sculpting about three years ago when his brother-in-law showed him how to shape metal to create a sunflower. “Working with your hands to turn nothing into something is pretty special. It is even more satisfying when people appreciate your work,” he said.
Inspired by Australian fauna
In particular, Patrick enjoys metal sculpting because he has the freedom to create whatever he pleases. His inspiration comes mainly from Australian fauna. He is a huge animal lover and the animals found in the Australian landscape are an abundant source of material for his sculpting.
His winning entry was inspired by a trip to Ningaloo in Western Australia. The Ningaloo Reef is one of the longest near-shore reefs in the world and the world’s largest fringing reef system. It is also where the endangered Whale Shark congregate between March and July to feed.
Asked what he found challenging about sculpting Whale Shark Patrick explains, “It was trying to bring this beautiful, gentle creature to life through my work. This meant that I had to rework the head a number of times, welding and reshaping its form and size until I was happy with the visual result. And that’s the thing about my Kemppi welder, I’m always pushing the machine and it never lets me down.”
“It’s now hard for me to believe that when I was 22 I was not sure that I wanted to be a welder. I decided to take up a welding apprenticeship because I wanted to build a hot-rod. However, since learning my trade not only did it ignite my passion for welding, it fuelled my desire to create and sculpt, and I think I will always be truly grateful for that hot-rod,” concluded Patrick, shaking his head.