Conventional wisdom from careers advisors these days is to follow your passion, but it’s often a tough ask in a world where career stability used to define much of who people were.
It’s also tough when so many people start up small businesses in an environment where most fail, talking their savings with them – that’s in economies like Australia where the rules are heavily sided in favour of big businesses and corporations, who can deal with crazy red tape at council, state and federal levels and absorb that into their costs so much more easily.
Norm Organ is one local bloke who’s been fortunate to follow his passion.
A welder and fabricator by trade, Norm got to the stage where he felt he needed a change from that daily grind – he utilised his metal working skills by combining them with his passion to create from his imagination, setting up a business where he sources scrap metal and junk and turns that raw material into recycled pieces of art.
“I did my trade here at the City Welding Works which has been closed for a long time, about eight years there – I was looking for something a little bit different to do from general fabrication, it’s a bit lighter on the body and I seem to get more enjoyment out of it, creating something out of your own idea,” Norm said.
“It’s not something I was trained to do but it was certainly an interest I’ve always had, I’ve always had a little bit of quirkiness I suppose and it’s great to see different stuff that’s been created out of stuff people throw away – everything’s got a life and it’s got an after-life too, in the form of something beautiful, is sort of how I look at it.”
He’s done plenty of commission work and isn’t scared to take on new projects, finding that constantly trying something new is an enjoyable mental and physical challenge, and he’s concerned that sort of imagination has been lacking in society as a whole.
“It’s just something that I just enjoy, I don’t find it hard to do, everybody’s got an imagination, unfortunately people don’t want to use it as much, to do something a little bit different – they do a 9 to 5 job and they don’t want to go outside themselves to do something creative, they’re a bit frightened or they just don’t have time or they’re just not interested
He’s built eagles with two metre wingspans, where each feather is created from old style bread and butter knives, but that’s no more painstaking than welding up one metre long goannas which are, literally, built from nuts and bolts.
Or echidnas where the quills are represented by uncountable spark plugs.
Just sourcing the raw metal to create the hundreds of items that fill his “Welding Studio” tucked away in Fletcher Crescent seems to be a task without end, yet he refers to that job as mere routine.
“I don’t find it difficult, I’ve got a few people in the mechanics’ industry who look after me a bit, I used to buy a little bit off the scrappy’s, a few people will come around and give me stuff which is a bonus, because they know I’m after bits and pieces and they’ll just drop it off, no strings attached – there’s a lot of generous people out there, and they’ve got to take the time to do it and I find that is satisfying because they know that I’m going to create something from it,” Norm said.
Norm’s won awards at all sorts of art competitions including Zoomin Art and Art in the Vines, and is pleased to see there are now a few other locals having a crack.
He’s especially keen on exhibits like the “Animals on Bikes” sculpture trail from Dubbo to Molong via Yeoval and Cumnock, a back route to Orange and Sydney which many travellers now choose just to see what’s new.
“Molong to Dubbo, Animals on Bikes, I think that is fantastic, you give people another hobby where they can create something to be proud of, and it will live for a long time, what they’ve created – people go out there to have a look and they get a kick out of it,” Norm said.
“Some of the creativity out there is just awesome, I think every town just needs a little bit of extra help and that’s a way to bring tourists to town, so this creativity has a dual effect, and I guess in the future we’re creating jobs for our children if the town gets bigger from tourism, so kids don’t have to leave, there’s a little bit more to it than meets the eye.
He’s keen on the work of Canadian sculptor Chris Stone who’s created 18 metre wingspan eagles from stainless steel and a water dragon 25 metres long – working in stainless mayl be one of his next projects.
“Just to polish something to a mirror finish on stainless is a big effort, but it stays polished, stainless is just a different quality,” Norm said.
He’s also experimented with kinetic sculptures that have moving parts, such as rows of cogs to create the door lock on his weld studio.
If you’re ever in a rut and just need to have a yarn in a cool space, you could do a lot worse than spending an hour at Norm’s place.