To the spanner born

Artist uses spanners to make garden sculptures


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AMAZING – John Piccoli creates life-like sculptures made completely of spanners.

AMAZING – John Piccoli creates life-like sculptures made completely of spanners.

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John Piccoli makes life-sized garden statues from spanners.

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Bloomin Beautiful

What makes some gardens more interesting than others? They might have unusual plants, interesting layouts, beautiful hedges, lakes, fountains and follies.

How you choose what to include will depend largely on the size of your garden, what your taste is and the style of your house.

For example, you probably wouldn’t have Mexican pots and little men statues in a fully Japanese garden – but then again, you might and if you like it, too bad about anyone else.

I call this the “zing” or “surprise” factor.

Some of the most popular features for any garden are sculptures and statues – big or small.

Some years ago I was lucky enough to visit the garden of John Piccoli in Boort, about an hour from Bendigo.

In my humble opinion, this man is a genius. He makes life-sized garden statues from spanners.

What makes his work even more remarkable is that he had polio as a child and, as a result, has used a wheelchair for  years.

John exhibits the statues in his garden, which is part of the old family property.

As with many farms, there was a wealth of old machinery, tools and spanners lying around in sheds.

Some of these things never see the light of day; but with John it was different.

One of his first pieces was a coffee table and now the sky’s the limit.

He has now run out of spanners from his shed so buys them at swap meets or people donate them. His tally so far is more than 100,000.

When we visited we were amazed to see a full-sized bull, swordfish and prancing horses – and I believe he has done many more since then.

The finished pieces look almost like iron lace and are truly beautiful.

This amazing man works from his memory without plans or drawings. He has a perfect eye for perspective.

The sculptures are welded in his workshop with the aid of a block and tackle, often with John lying on the floor to do so.

If you have the opportunity, join the thousands of people who have visited this fascinating garden. It is something you won’t see elsewhere.

  • Tours by appointment only, Tues-Sun 10am-2pm. Closed July, reopens August. Phone (03) 5455-4257, spannerman.weebly.com
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