Rachel Fieldhouse

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‘Holy smoke, what am I doing here?’: Maker Andrew shares his experience

‘Holy smoke, what am I doing here?’: Maker Andrew shares his experience

In the latest episode of Making It Australia, the remaining Makers were tasked with inventing a large-scale device to solve a common problem.

After wowing the judges with his chicken-powered alarm clock, Andrew was the next Maker to leave the show.

The metalworking extraordinaire sat down with OverSixty to tell us about his experiences on the show and what he has gone on to do since.

O60: What was the highlight of being a Maker?

The highlight of being a Maker was to live and work with an incredibly talented, inspiring group of people for a long period of time. That is something that doesn't happen often in your life, and [I have] very strong, warm memories of it.

O60: What surprised you most about your Making It experience?

What surprised me most, I don’t think I was as prepared as much as I should have been. When I got there and assessed myself against the abilities of the other competitors, I was a bit intimidated because these people not only were great artists but had skills in all these other areas.

And I thought, ‘Holy smoke, what am I doing here?’ And I said to them I’m the Volkswagen that snuck into the BMW car park, and [I’m] gonna get found out real quick. 

But I lasted longer than I thought.

O60: On the show, you mentioned that you were formerly a booby trap instructor for the army. How did you make the transition to crafting and metalwork?

That was one of many skills,  many qualifications I had in the army. I was a mine warfare and booby trap instructor. I taught a couple of courses in the area, but my main employment was working with army tanks. But I did [work as a] booby trap instructor as one of my extra qualifications. 

Well, I got out of the army after 20 years. And then, as a 40 year old, joined the shire as an apprentice diesel mechanic. And I learned a whole lot of new skills there that I didn't have: workshop procedures and how to do things safely and they put me on a welders course so now I had some skills. 

And coming off of a farm we had 100 years or more … [I] had access to all these materials. And I now had a welder in my hand. 

So … just one day, the wife said to me, ‘Why don’t you go up to the shed and do something creative?’ and I built this cow. And I didn't think it was real good. But I took it down [to display] and no-one shot a hole in it or pushed it over with their ute. 

And someone said take it to an art show. 

Anyway, I did that and it won first prize. I couldn't understand how it would do that, because I didn't think it was very good. But the judges were academics out of Sydney and they saw something in it. And they gave me a fistful of money and my name in the paper and I thought, ‘This is alright, I’ll have another crack at this’, and it just flowed from there.

O60: What’s next for you after Making It?

Well I’ve got two basically completed public artworks in my shed that I’ve got to deliver, one to Maroopna, in Victoria and one in Jinjili, up the hill.

I'm currently working on a fruit bat for a private commission. 

Next week, I'm jumping on a bus as a tour guide, touring the various public artworks I have in the region … and I’ve got the microphone, and I’ll tell them all about the artworks as we go around the district.

O60: Making It posed challenges that saw you use a whole range of different skills and techniques, has it changed how you have gone about your creative practice since leaving the show?

I’m now more open to try different things, and maybe mix what I'm doing with something else. You get into something and you're comfortable with it, you tend to stick with it, especially if it’s successful.

But now I'm open to thinking about change and different things to stay in front of the game.

O60: Last but not least, if you had the chance, would you do it again?

If I knew that certain logistic problems were sorted, I would. Otherwise no. 

It's a once in a lifetime, amazing experience and you'd never be able to duplicate it a second time because it was the wonder of getting under the lights, and going to the city, and I'm a country boy and I hate driving around the city and it’s all those events all tied together [that] made it a once-only, amazing thing. I don't think I'd get the buzz out of it a second time.

With only five Makers remaining, Making It Australia returns next weekend for another crafty episode.

Image: Making It Australia

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