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Albany’s Ben Castle accesses his creative side with Art on a Stick

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Ben Castle with one of his artworks from reused materials.
Camera IconBen Castle with one of his artworks from reused materials. Credit: Laurie Benson

Ben Castle has never considered himself as the creative type.

Despite this, the farmer and former boilermaker, who has lived in Albany all his life, has created a successful business making unique garden ornaments, with his business aptly titled Art on a Stick.

About two years ago, Castle discovered his passion for being creative when he decided to keep up his metalworking skills by making ornaments out of recycled metals after transitioning into dairy farm work from boilermaking.

After studying at North Albany Senior High School, Castle went on to undertake a boilermaking apprenticeship, before switching to farming four years ago.

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“I wanted to be outdoors a bit more,” he said.

“It is more of a range of work and I still do a lot of their repairs and everything out on the farm, but still get a chance to milk some cows and birth some babies and things like that.”

Castle describes himself as “the sort of person that can’t really sit down and do nothing” and has channelled that energy into finding ways to repurpose materials and recycle metals into his nature-inspired artworks.

A frequent visitor of garage sales and the Albany and Denmark tip shops, Castle gathers shovels and spoons, and pots and pans for his creations.

“I always try and reuse recycled metals before I buy brand new stuff,” he said.

After finishing his farm work, Castle goes home to start his side hustle, normally working from 4pm to 7pm making his creations, with a slew of recent Christmas orders making sure he keeps himself busy.

“I’ve got that many bloody orders that I could just about sleep down the shed,” he said.

His process starts by first going through his bits and pieces of metals, before deciding on a design.

“I find out what I’m making, and then I draw it up and either get it blown up, or it might be the right size already,” he said.

“Then I cut it out with my Stanley knife, and then I trace it on to my bit of steel.

“And then I cut everything out by hand, clean it all up by hand and then mount it on the shovel or whatever it will go on.”

The process is a family affair, with Castle’s dad helping seal up the birdbaths he makes and his mum helping draw some of the designs.

Art on a Stick has helped Castle both maintain his boilermaking skills and access a creative side he didn’t know he had.

With his work now coveted by house-proud gardeners and displayed in a Denmark art gallery, he has hopes of eventually turning it into a full-time gig with his sights set on expanding to more galleries and into Margaret River.

But for now, Castle is happy to continue taking inspiration for his next piece from the unexpected materials around him.

“Now I walk past a pile of spoons and think, ‘oh, that might make a bird or something’,” he said.

“I definitely feel a lot more artistic now. A couple of years ago, I couldn’t have drawn a bird to save myself.”

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