WHILE it has rained and the bushfires are out, rural communities are still suffering from years of drought in SA.
The ongoing struggle has been the inspiration behind two donated scrap metal art pieces by Jabuk artist Trent Stewart, with plans for more.
Trent said the idea came about two years ago, when the drought was really taking hold within the state.
"A drought appeal was going on, but I didn't have money to donate," he said.
"I'd been messing around with scrap art for years, entering local shows and competitions - so that's where the charity art idea came from."
Also known as 'MalleeBoy Art', Trent created an initial piece for the Karoonda township, which was "doing it really tough at the time".
Trent said mental health in farming was the inspiration behind the piece.
"It's a farmer's wife holding her child waiting on the verandah for her husband to come home," he said.
"The mobile phone text message says 'where are you? You OK?'
"I really felt for farm wives that would see their husbands head out, maybe even to put down livestock, and wonder whether they would be coming home.
"It signifies the hardships of drought and that sometimes not all farmers come home at the end of the day."
Trent unveiled 'The Farmer's Wife' piece at the Colour Up Karoonda Festival in June, which also celebrated the town's new silo art.
But the drought still hadn't broken, so he set about creating another one, this time for Robertstown, which was in its third year of drought.
"This time I chose to immortalise local legend Alby Reimann," he said.
"Alby, who is also my partner Renae's grandfather, was heavily involved in the local community with council, sport and church and he shore sheep until he was in his 60s.
"The piece marked the day he retired, with a handpiece on his lap, beer in hand and his moccasins still on."
Trent collected scrap metal from locals and engraved their names on the piece.
'Poppa' was unveiled in October at the launch of Robertstown's new community centre, which had received government drought funding.
Trent hopes to continue making more pieces for drought-affected towns, possibly even closer to home.
"I would like to put a piece in every town along the Mallee Highway, to encourage people to stop in our towns and support local businesses," he said.
Breathing new life into scraps
JABUK scrap metal artist Trent Stewart opens the gates to his on-farm gallery on the first Sunday of every month, not only to creatively inspire others but also for the fellowship.
"With the ongoing drought, we wanted to encourage locals to get out, have a coffee and a chat, touch base, while also showcasing scrap art as a potential hobby," he said.
"I've had odd bouts of anxiety and depression myself, so I thought that was very important.
"Some have taken a real interest in what you can create by re-purposing old farm stuff."
A sheep and cattle farmer himself, Trent says agriculture and Australian themes inspires most of his art. He has featured on a few national and international sculpting websites.
He is presently working on a koala, inspired by the recent bushfires.
"I also hadn't seen many sculpted koalas in my travels - something a bit different," he said.