When farmer Peter ‘Turtle’ Crosby picks over tools at clearing sales, his first sculpture inspired by a beer-drinking emu is never too far from his mind.
- Cleve farmer Peter Crosby’s first large metal sculpture was in honour of a larrikin emu that frequented his local pub
- Mr Crosby has since made two Clydesdales horses and is working on a wedge-tailed eagle
- He uses farm machinery and tools donated by other farmers or bought from clearance sales
To him, the metal tools and old farm machinery could be the bones of his next creation.
The self-taught artist, from Cleve in South Australia, gives credit to cheeky emu for inspiring his fledgling career.
The pet emu called Eric, that turned out to be Erica, often frequented the front bar of the Darke Peak Hotel in the early 1990s.
“The emu came into the pub, weaved his way around all the people in there and then stuck his head in a schooner of the bloke that I was talking to,” Mr Crosby said.
“He had his back to it — he never even seen the emu come in.
“He reached around to grab it and he said, ‘Oh, who drank my beer?’
“I said, ‘No, an emu came in and drank it’. And he to this day wouldn’t believe it.”
The story became legendary.
To mark the “funniest thing” he’d ever seen, Mr Crosby made a metal emu for the Darke Peak Legends weekend to stand outside the pub.
Erica become part of the community
Erica was raised from a chick by Peter ‘Stony’ Stone with a short-haired pointer, and a euro.
“She was a community favourite,” Mr Stone said.
“When she’d go in people would yell out, ‘Pick up your change’, because she’d pick up the change off the bar and swallow it,” Mr Stone said.
She’d try to eat almost anything.
“She’d peck people’s cigarettes out of a bloke’s hand and swallow that,” Mr Stone said.
“Sometimes she’d get out from home and wander around up to the kindergarten and just stay up there with the kids, walking around,” Mr Stone said.
Mr Crosby’s metal sculpture of Erica is still across the road from the pub. He’s since made two Clydesdale horses and is now making a wedged-tail eagle.
People offer their scrap heaps
The farmer says he’s self-taught, although admits he’s done a lot of welding to fix broken farm machinery in his time.
“A lot of farmers have said, ‘Come up and help yourself to our scrap heap’,” he said.
“I look at tools and things different to what everyone else does at clearing sales because I’m trying to picture it as part of an animal and they all want it for tools.
“Just recently at clearing sales they’re getting dearer and dearer because people want to buy the tools and I want them for body parts for animals.”
He keeps special antique tools in a display shed but everything else is potentially an animal part.
“There’s probably a lot of really good tools welded to this eagle, Sidchrome spanners and good tin snips and that, but I don’t need them so I’ll weld them there.”
He’s on farm time with this project and isn’t sure when he’ll be finished.
And like the beer-drinking emu that first inspired him, the eagle won’t fly away because it’s expected to weigh 500 kilograms.
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