An incredible sculpture of the great motorcyclist Kenny Blake has been unveiled in Strathalbyn.
Kenny was a Strathalbyn icon; he grew up there, and in honour of him the annual Kenny Blake Festival of Motorcycling is held at the town’s oval on his birthday.
He started motorcycle racing his 1964 Triumph in 1966, and went on to win 11 national championships and compete at the Isle of Man.
During his last race before retirement at the Isle of Man in 1981, his bike aquaplaned, and he slid and hit a concrete post and was killed instantly.
He is a revered Australian motorcyclist, and the festival celebrates both the man and the racer he was.
At this year’s festival, on October 26 to 28, a sculpture created by renowned Goolwa artist James Stewart was unveilied by Governor of SA His Excellency the Honourable Hieu Van Le.
Mr Stewart said the sculpture took about three-and-a-half months to make and weighs an estimated half a tonne.
“It was exciting to have it finished but some of the troubles were just beginning, with transport and installation,” he said.
“But it was so overwhelming on Sunday (October 28), there were so many people.”
It is made out of mechanical parts of all shapes and sizes welded together; he originally planned to make it all out of motorcycle parts and motorcycle-related tools but other parts were included, such as aircraft pieces.
A Coopers beer bottle cap on his helmet “claims him back to South Australia” – as he got better at racing, he moved to Victoria to compete.
He said there were a “few little headaches” such as crafting the rear tyre and fabricating the whole engine, but finishing it was a rewarding experience.
“Because it’s a 1:1 scale, if I used motorbike parts then you just have a motorbike. I was careful to not put parts where they normally go. It definitely helped that I ride bikes; at one stage I owned a bike only a couple of years newer than that,” he said.
“When I finished it, I lowered it on the ground and sat on it myself. I was the same size as Kenny, so I could take a couple measurements from myself,” he said.
The sculpture sits at the corner of High and Grey streets in Strathalbyn.