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Clinton’s Metal Masterpieces

Clinton with his sculptures

Manilla oozes many and varied artistic talents, and one such gifted creator is metallic sculptor Clinton Yates who can take a lump of 1mm sheet metal and transform it into an absolute masterpiece.

The 34-year-old has only been serious about his metal creations for the last two years, but has already grabbed notoriety – and a juicy winnerís cheque, by taking out the sculpture section in last yearís Frost Over Barraba with his magnificent wedgetail eagle, which currently takes pride of place in the dining room of Tom and Vickii Cockingís Royal Hotel.

That was my first show, and I was amazed by the interest shown, particularly from outsiders. It was awesome, and I got some orders too. Making an eagle is quite daunting. It takes from 100 to 120 hours to complete, and there could be anything from 2500 to 4000 feathers to cut out, grind, shape then weld into place so theyíre overlapping. It can get very tricky, Clinton said.

Earlier this year Clinton had several of his creations on display at the Manilla Folder, which monthly features different budding local artists in its front window. Once again plenty of interest from out- siders ñ and more orders.

A couple of Murray Cod sculptures went down to Bendigo and Echuca in Victoria and another per-son took a Barramundi back to Brisbane. Those sales all came from the Manilla display. Iíd really like to put some in the big Kangaroo Valley Art Show which is held on the south coast every two years. And another major one Iíd like to do is at Seventeen Seventy in Queensland. I started a big crocodile 12 months ago with a plan to take it up there, but thereís still a long way to go with him ñ a lot of belly and back scales yet to make and fit into place.

Clinton arrived in Manilla as an 11-year-old, and completed his schooling in Year 10 at Manilla Central School. From there he did four years as a slaughterman at Peel Valley Exporters in Tamworth, then moved on to a seven-year stint of building stockyards in Newcastle. His spare time during school was drawing his favourite characters with a pencil, those sketches including fish, birds and reptiles ñ ìanything Aussieî. Two years ago he decided to trade his pencil and paper and see what he could deliver on a sheet of steel.

I still dabble a bit in drawing portraits of dogs for people I know. My sister put one of them on Facebook, and it went mad. But I prefer working with metal, I get a lot more satisfaction from it, he said.

Being a lover of fishing, kayak- ing and the bush has given Clinton inspiration for his 20 or so sculp- tures to date, though his three trips north to Cape York in the last five years have been the icing on the cake.

That ís where you get inspiration from. Itís the sort of country you can look at something and just want to make it. My favourite piece so far is the yellowbelly which has lights in it, and the crocodile Iím on now is going to be good too, but thereís still a lot of work yet to do on him.

One of Clintonís good mates is a shearer from Bourke, so much of his spare time is spent out west looking for more material. One of those trips though netted him not only inspiration, but also a big order.

I’ve been asked to make the head and shoulders of a big Merino ram from old shearing combs, so my mateís going to save all his old combs for me. I’m really looking forward to tackling that one when these here are finished.

Currently armed with his trusty welder, grinder, steel hammer, blow torch and anvil, Clinton spends many hours in a home garage workshop in town ñ temporary only until he builds his own workshop on the North Manilla block he recently purchased. And he has dreams tooñìget recognised for what I do, keep doing it, and ultimately travel Australia doing it.