Known as Spanner Man, Boort artist John Piccoli died suddenly on Thursday night, leaving his family, fans, and Boort locals to grieve and celebrate a caring man and master of a unique art form.

Key points:

  • ‘Spanner Man’ John Piccoli was known for his sculptures made out of spanners.
  • Piccoli died on Thursday night, leaving behind a legacy of the unique art form.
  • He opened his Boort farm to the public, welcoming as many as 200 people a day.

After contracting polio in 1949, Mr Piccoli carried on farming his third-generation Central Victorian property from a wheelchair before retiring to embrace life as an accidental artist.

Mr Piccoli sourced antique spanners from far and wide to create his many sculptures; eventually, he was convinced to open his farm to visitors.

The tourist attraction welcomed 300 people in its first year; nearly 20 years later, it attracted 100-200 visitors a day.

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‘Incredible ability’: Friend pays tribute

Boort local and Mr Piccoli’s friend Paul Haw said the popular community man’s work was probably the biggest tourist attraction in the Loddon Shire.

“He had an incredible skill,” Mr Haw said.

“He used to lie in the dirt on his back to weld.

“He had the incredible ability to achieve perspective.”

“He didn’t want to make any money out of it, he just wanted to see the pleasure that people got out of his artwork.”

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The Spanner Man: one of the world’s most unusual artists(Emily Stewart)

Tourist attraction to go on

Mr Piccoli’s family announced his death via Facebook, saying it was with a “very, very heavy heart” that they inform all their dad’s fans of his sudden passing.

Spanner Man's workshop

John Piccoli says he doesn’t intend to waste away in a nursing home, he’d rather be in his workshop.(

Emily Stewart

)

Mr Haw said he was sure the tourist attraction, which plays a major role in the local economy of the 700-person town, would go on.

“John would have made plans for that,” he said.

“I’d say his farm will be just as popular when re-opens.

“I used to take kids out there, not for his artwork but for how he treated life.

“He was an example to everyone.”

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Sculpture artist ‘Spanner Man’ leaves a legacy
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