New home for Kelly legend


A armoured statue that Ned Kelly would have been proud of will this week stand sentinel on the forecourt of a bush property in Baldivis.

The 1.8 metre-tall statue, complete with shotgun, is the work of Rockingham metalwork artist Keith Blair, who is a boilermaker at the Rockingham factory of Doral Fused Materials.

Unlike most artists of his ilk, Mr Blair takes his commission on appeal rather than monetary reward.

In fact, Ned Kelly was completed over a couple of weeks gratis for friend Dave Norton, manager of IPC Industrial Maintenance in Rockingham.

The pair are former work colleagues.

Ned Kelly is regarded as an iconic figure in Australian history, folklore, literature, art and film. Dressed in home-made plate metal armour and helmet, the bushranger was captured at Glenrowan, Victoria, after a shoot-out in June, 1880 when he killed three policemen.

He was convicted of three counts of capital murder and hanged at Old Melbourne Gaol in November 1880, aged 26.

Kelly was variously considered to be a coldblooded cop killer or a folk hero and symbol of Irish Australian resistance against the Anglo-Australian ruling class.

Mr Blair, 54, whose day job involves plant maintenance for a company exporting fused alumina and zircon, has been sculpting for five years, mostly in his spare time at work.

His latest labour of love was mostly made out of steel offcuts taken from the work scrap bin.

‘‘I did the helmet and shield first then the rifle and then the rest of the statue came together,’’ he said.

‘‘I just used heat and mig welding.

‘‘The most difficult part to make were the hands, which had to be shaped correctly.’’

Mr Blair has produced many works of art and his home is full of ‘‘bits and pieces’’.

Ned is likely to be transported to ‘‘his’’ new home today.

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