October 6, 2023

Higher art

Gardens are a source of beauty and inspiration for many people. The enjoyment of outdoor spaces can be enhanced with the addition of unique and personal touches and a popular way to inject personality and character into your space is incorporating garden art.

A custom-made bowl with eagles by Will Wilson of Willie’s Wildlife Sculptures.

Whether you are an avid gardener or simply appreciate spending time outdoors, a well-designed, thoughtful garden can provide peace, tranquillity and connection to the natural world.

Adding further touches of garden art can help create a sense of harmony and balance between the man-made and the natural; adding artistry and creativity to an outdoor space.

It can also be used to create a focal point, directing the eye to specific areas and adding depth and dimension to the overall design. Furthermore, garden art can help express personal style, reflecting the taste and personality of the gardener.

At only 16 years of age, Luke Humphrys has started his own business, Rusty Recycle Art, which specialises in making unique and charismatic garden art pieces that speak differently to each viewer.

Luke Humphrys “Plier Star”, which is available at The Garden Depot.
Dudley Siviour’s “Kangaroos with joey in pouch”, and “Joey”.

He began his journey of creating garden art through a school mentorship project in which his grandfather, Leighton, taught him to weld. From here, Luke has used his new skills to form his garden art business and has showcased his award-winning works through multiple exhibitions. Luke’s work is not only creative, but his whole approach to how he creates his pieces is innovative.

Each unique piece that Luke creates is made entirely from “recycled rusty metal items sourced from garage sales, farms, industrial skip bins and donated items”.

He adapts these scrap metal items into one-off, compelling pieces.

Luke explains that his chosen recycled medium to work with comes from his belief that “all around the world there is too much metal going to waste, so I decided to make something of value with the things people would usually throw away”.

Two Luke Humphrys’ sculptures from his Rust Refreshed SALA exhibition in 2022.

He is proud that his work helps to have a positive impact on Mother Nature by repurposing items that would usually end up in landfill.

Upon viewing how creative Luke’s pieces are, as well as understanding his whole philosophy, it’s easy to see why his works have become popular. He can adapt scrap metal items such as old chains, ring gears, bearing holders, shovels and rusted saws into the most delightful animal characters that sit proudly in outdoor spaces: think amusing snails that hide amongst foliage, curious owls that keep a watchful eye and quirky bird characters that can even act as bird feeders. And no two are ever the same due to the recycled materials used.

Luke has also begun creating sculptural pieces that are perfect for a modern garden. These pieces are made of intricately welded scrap metal items that make up one beautiful shape, and when positioned in a prime spot in the garden paired with an up-light will create gorgeous shadows at night.

Will Wilson’s “Platypus in bronze bowl”.
Dudley Siviour’s garden art piece, “Reclining kangaroo”

Luke’s chosen materials are robust enough to withstand our local climate, making them the perfect addition that will last outdoors. An important thing to remember when choosing your garden art is to ensure it will endure being exposed to the everchanging seasons.

Luke’s particular materials are the perfect on-trend tones of reddish-brown colour, comparable to the colour of the desert sands and rocks of the Australian outback landscape, that will fit within many garden schemes.

Other popular durable materials commonly used for outdoor artworks include recycled corrugated and pressed galvanised iron such as the works of local artist Dudley Siviour, cleverly carved and manipulated wood and granites like Adelaide Hills sculptor Silvio Apponyi’s pieces, and the Australian bronze that Will Wilson of Willie Wildlife Sculptures uses to create his intricate birdbaths and sculptures.

“Brian the bird”, which featured in Luke Humphrys’ 2021 Rust Reloaded SALA exhibition.
Will Wilson’s piece “Platypus”.

When looking for something to add to your garden, Luke is a firm believer that your chosen piece should bring you joy.

He personally enjoys how his work “surprises people when they recognise a familiar tool or engine part in my work – they always have a laugh”. And while he gains inspiration from a variety of forms, from following a certain theme, to the shapes and forms of objects in his scrap metal heap, one of his favourite things to do is use items that have sentimental meaning to his clients. He often makes commissioned pieces for clients by recycling tools of a loved one who has passed on, giving people a special art piece to remember that person. So, while on the hunt for something to add to your garden, whether it be a sculpture, statue or water feature, don’t forget to look close to home for inspiration as well.

“Darryl and Donna snails” by Luke Humphrys, available at the Garden Depot.

If you are looking for the finishing piece to add personality and interest into your garden space, garden art may be the perfect solution. There is no wrong answer – you could choose something purely based on its visual value, or perhaps something that inspires you or has sentimental value – the choice is yours. In South Australia, we are spoilt for choice of talented artists and creators, you could even get in contact with an artist who inspires you and commission your own special piece to treasure forever.


This article first appeared in the Winter 2023 issue of SALIFE Gardens & Outdoor Living magazine.

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