Sadly Evan Barry Hawke died on the 7th of December 2012 aged 67. A sculptor in metal, a painter, a poet and a stalwart of the Burra Regional Art Gallery. Evan not only supplied art works to the gallery but served as a volunteer hanger, maintenance man and resident poet. A metal artwork by him hangs in the Gallery as Evan’s thankyou to the other volunteers who give their time to work in the Gallery. Evan supported many other worthy causes in his home town of Burra including being an active member of the Burra Art Society.
To begin we have a neat animation of one of Evans sculptures. It’s a small file I recommend you check it out. Please let the Gallery web site administrator know if you have issues playing the animation.
Evan’s father was a car and machinery salesman, and travelled extensively in country SA. Evan attended school in Cummins, Coulta, Wattle Park, Finiss, Tintinara, Keith, Murray Bridge and completed his education at Burra High School.
The variety of occupations he pursued after leaving school was an education of another kind: building, dairy, trucking, garbage collecting and farm work – planting grain, ploughing, stock handling, carting, fencing, weed control, and more.
At the age of 18 he joined the railways as a trainee fireman but had an altercation with the law and ended up in Gladstone prison for 2 months. When called-up for the Army he was rejected from serving due to deafness in his left ear caused by a fencing wire accident.
He then worked in Terowie as a truck driver and for the Elliston Council as a dozer operator and truck driver. In an engineering shop in Streaky Bay he learnt welding, making sheds and doing general repairs.
Poetry and art were always part of his life. Creative thinking carried him through long nights sitting behind the wheel of truck or tractor, most of it forgotten next day.
A job in Adelaide followed, working for a scrap metal dealer ripping up railway lines in Port Adelaide (sent on contract to the Riverland to be used for fence posts), then for AB Denning building buses, for Rio Fixers specialising in stressed concrete, then the Festival Theatre, Hoadleys, and bridges, jails, hospitals and schools.
He worked on a cray boat off Port Adelaide, Kangaroo Island and the West Coast, and went to Queensland to Gladstone Alumina Refinery, then 4 years hunting sapphires at Anaki Gem Fields. Bad luck, he missed out on the good one, found one week after he left.
Queensland Rail was next, working on the line from Emerald to Mt. Isa. He flew from there to Alice Springs and with some mates went by “chaser train” to Port Augusta (the freight train that followed the Ghan) – a very uncomfortable ride – no air conditioning, no food or water, but faster than walking. Arriving in Port Augusta they slept on the platform among New Year garbage with his old dog Winky Dink, great-grandmother to Frank Fennell’s whippet cross.
Next morning all scored jobs with ANR on the Tarcoola-Alice Springs railway line. To take up this job Evan had to leave his gun and his dog with his sister Raelene in Burra. The job entailed construction and being in charge of a “flying gang”, working in various sites from a camp train. During the construction phase, Evan was given the honour of co-designing and building a monument for the laying of the millionth sleeper.
Christmas 1985 Evan met his future wife Cheryl at Alice Springs. They married on Mothers Day 1986 in the garden of the Alice Springs Old Telegraph Station. Cheryl accompanied Evan, living in a caravan along the railway line between Manguri and Chandler and moving to Keith laying concrete sleepers on the Melbourne to Adelaide Line, Wolseley through to Coonalpyn. The family moved then to Murray Bridge, and lived by the river two houses from the bridge near the railway station. Cheryl repainted the house’s 14ft. inside walls using scaffolding and Evan cleared of boxthorn and mowed the tract of land alongside the railway line.
The change was made from broad to standard gauge on the Melbourne Line, and Evan piloted the first locomotive over standard gauge track from Wolseley to Dry Creek, worked on the standardisation of the Appumara Line from Monarto South to Appumara (the old Sedan Line), the Loxton Line, and prepared the Pinnaroo Line.
He was then made redundant, the rails keeping on only skeleton crews, a clear false economy given the trouble they are in now.
They returned to Burra and Evan’s niece Tanya Waters told him of a Heather Parker workshop in watercolour painting.
The rest is history…