Men of Steam

Celia Clare

Air dry Clay

MEN OF STEAM Old photographs of timber mill workers (circa 1870-1890) were my point of reference for sculpting and carving the heads. Almost everyone wore a hat in those days and facial hair was very fashionable. Hundreds of men were employed in these noisy and dusty steam driven timber mills that sprung up throughout Western Australia’s South West. These mills employed workers from surrounding districts including Aboriginal men. Ticket of leave men who were granted permission to work, Chinese, British, American sailors, any man wanting to work would be given a tryout. It was heavy, hard and dangerous work, several workers lost limbs on the saws or in the fast moving belts driven by the steam engine, sometimes the boilers would explode scalding everyone nearby, many men lost their lives. ‘Men of Steam’ is a nod to those who worked in this industry to provide lumber throughout Australia and the world beyond.