Originally from Yorkshire, he’s learned to deal with the harsh far-north Queensland sun and the isolation of working on the mines in the Kimberleys.
Since his move to Australia, he and his wife, Melanie, have shifted around every four to five years.
But the rolling hills and misty mornings in the Derwent Valley in Tasmania have stolen their hearts.
“We thought we’d come here for a quick look … build a house and go back to Cairns. It just hasn’t happened that way,” Rush said.
“We’ve been here for nine years and no plan to leave.”
It was a terrible accident that prompted their move down south. While operating a truck on the mines, Rush suffered an injury.
He still lives with ongoing pain from nerve damage.
“The mental aspect of it, [the] ongoing pain is quite hard on me. I don’t sleep particularly well, I sleep in short bursts and then you wake up and your mind is racing,” he said.
After months of recovery and difficult physio, it became clear he had to give up his job.
But by taking inspiration from the stunning natural environment around him and his new community, Duncan Rush found a way to reinvent himself.
The accidental builder
It was always Rush’s dream to build his own house.
He had never built a house, so shipping containers were an obvious solution.
“It’s a unique system that gives you instant structure, you put them together like Lego bricks and you decorate the inside,” he said.
He began working at the local hardware store and luckily, there was no shortage of people willing to give advice.
“I found Tasmanians very good at giving advice, sometimes unwarranted, most of the times helpful,” he said.
It wasn’t long before his home became a local landmark, even used by fire crews as a meeting place during last year’s bushfires.
It did not take long before Rush began working with other local builders.
He now works as a builder and handyman.
From builder to sculptor
The words “tradie” and “artist” aren’t often associated, but for Rush, becoming a sculptor was a natural transition.
“The process of becoming an artist evolved from me making things for my house,” he said.
“I didn’t see things that I liked to buy so I decided I’d make things on my own … and also seeing potential in things that I had as off-cuts and things like that.
His property on the outskirts of New Norfolk is full of industrial-style sculptures made in his time off.
Hanging in the trees is a big, black spider made of light fittings and galvanised pipe while closer to the house is a metal fire ant made of trampoline sides and a hot water cylinder.
“The sunflowers that I make are nearly everybody’s favourite because of the colours, they’re made from light fittings that I found at the tip shop and immediately saw sunflowers in them,” he said.
“I like to see things that other people see as scrap and make them into something beautiful.”
Further away from the house is his “art supplies store” — or, as Melanie describes it, his junk pile — where he stores things from the tip shop for which he doesn’t have an immediate use.
He’s now known in the community for his proclivity toward collecting pieces of scrap which he turns into art.
“I’m quite lucky now that a lot of people know that I sculpt out of steel, so if they have excess of something or something that they don’t need any more, they’ll ring me and say ‘do you want this?’ … and I’ll always say yes.”
Art a form of therapy
Because of his injury, Rush often finds it hard to sleep.
But since moving to Tasmania, he has found solace in the artistic process and its ability to keep his hands and mind busy.
“It helps me at night-time, I often think about the projects I want to do, projects that I have going, how to make things better and it often calms my mind and helps me go back to sleep.”
Rush and Melanie met when she was on a holiday in the UK. Despite having spent so many years together, she was surprised when he started making art.
“I never really saw Duncan as being a creative person, but since his mining accident I feel that his creativity has come through necessity,” Melanie said.
“I admire the fact that he can wake up in the morning every morning with a smile on his face and say, ‘I’ve got a great idea, I’m going to put it into practice.'”
“There’s always a story behind his pieces. And they’re always large … always large,” she laughed.
New Norfolk artistic community finally coming together
Rush is now working toward his first exhibition at Black Swan, a bookshop cafe in New Norfolk.
He said New Norfolk is an easy place to collaborate with other artists because it is such a small place.
“If someone new moves in who is an artist, you get the tap on the shoulder saying you need to meet such-and-such, they’re a such-and-such,” he said.
“I’ve been lucky to work with a couple of other artists around. I’ve got a friend who is a ceramicist — she gives me pieces that I can work into my big animals, often the eyes, sometimes scales.”
The Derwent Valley has always been home to artists, but a relatively new group, Derwent Valley Arts, is aiming to bring them together.
Board member Alexander Okenyo is the owner of Black Swan.
“The exciting thing about the changes in New Norfolk in terms of the art scene is, finally all the artists that are scattered around the Derwent Valley independently creating fantastic works with incredible practices are starting to connect,” he said.
“The opportunities here are vast and numerous,” Rush said.
“I’ve been lucky that I’ve met a lot of people through different jobs and they’ll ask, ‘Do you want to try this?'”
FILE PHOTO: Basketball – NBA Global Games – San Antonio Spurs v Phoenix Suns – Arena Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico – December 14, 2019 Former Spurs player Tim Duncan before the match REUTERS/Carlos Perez Gallardo
August 15, 2020
(Reuters) – The Naismith Basketball Memorial Hall of Fame said on Friday the enshrinement ceremony for the Class of 2020, a nine-member group that includes the late Kobe Bryant, will take place May 13 to 15 next year at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut.
The ceremony for the group, which also includes Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, was initially scheduled for Aug. 29 in Springfield, Massachusetts, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The decision to reschedule enshrinement to May, along with diminished museum guest visitation and a very uncertain future regarding collegiate and high school basketball events, has forced us to make these decisions,” John Doleva, the Hall of Fame’s chief executive, said in a statement.
“For this single event, and only because of the pandemic, we will relocate the entire event one time to Mohegan Sun which has been a long-time marketing partner of the Hall.
“Mohegan Sun has shown they can effectively operate a ‘near-bubble’ for our event which provides a more secure environment for our guests.”
Bryant, a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, was one of the most dominant players in NBA history. He was killed with his daughter and seven others in a January helicopter crash.
Former Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich and 10-time WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings are among the other members of the highly anticipated Class of 2020.
(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by William Mallard)
One of Tasmania’s oldest residents has celebrated her 109th birthday, but not in the way she could have expected.
With coronavirus restrictions in place around the country, Launceston’s Chloe Duncan could only have a small gathering of nursing staff, along with two family members, inside her aged care room on Wednesday for the big celebration.
“My brother Tony and I were able to go see her, and she does have quite a few bunches of flowers — we all sent her some.”
Mrs Duncan was born in 1911 and is now living through her second pandemic.
She endured the Spanish Flu in 1918 and as a young girl survived two world wars, the Great Depression and the 1929 Tasmanian floods.
“She used to talk about the Spanish Flu,” Mrs Finch said.
“Papers and bread and things used to be passed through a tiny gap in the window — they were only allowed to open it so high, and they’d have to reach out through the window.
“They got through it.”
She always liked her vegetables
Mrs Finch said her mother’s secret to living a long life came down to diet.
“She’s always liked her vegetables and loves spending time in the garden,” she said.
“It’s a bit hard now but she used to get out there a lot.”
Mrs Duncan used to be ballerina and also had a passion for knitting.
“Mum used to make a lot of our clothes when we were young,” Mrs Finch said.
Too many grandchildren to count
Mrs Finch is the second eldest of Mrs Duncan’s 11 children and says this birthday for her mother has been tough without a lot of family around.
“We’ve lost count of how many grandchildren and great-grandchildren she has — there’s so many in Sydney and Queensland,” she said.
“You need proof of a recent flu shot before entering the aged care facility, along with a temperature check.”
Once the restrictions ease, Mrs Finch said she was excited to see her family from interstate come to visit.
“I’m excited to see my children come down from Queensland — that’s what I’m looking forward to most,” she said.