This feature has been produced in partnership with Bushmills Black Bush
Dion Horstmans is a giant of the art world. At six-foot-six and eighty percent muscle, he’s capable of hand crafting some of the world’s most spectacular metal sculptures which have found homes in living rooms, galleries and the open air real estate eighty-five metres above Melbourne’s Collins Square.
From his humble metal work studio in Sydney’s inner west, Horstmans follows a simple craftsman’s code.
“Design is about balance. If there’s no balance within the piece, whether it’s a chair or a car, it won’t be user friendly.”
His love affair with construction began through a life of hard knocks growing up in the Cook Islands. A stutter meant that he wouldn’t talk much, instead opting to sit in his bedroom to draw and make things. His most memorable project? An architectural playhouse for his toy soldiers.
Young Horstmans found his life’s calling here and its inspiration would soon follow.
Elements of primitive arts paired with geometric shapes and patterns is a signature of Dion Horstmans steel sculptures. What is often interpreted by the public as movement in static form, the origins of his designs actually cast a little deeper.
During his New Zealand schooling years Horstmans was surrounded by maraes – the tribal meeting houses of Māori communities. These house surfaces were adorned with patterns to create an endless succession of diamonds and triangles set in red, black and white. All of it was geometric and repetitive whether it was on buildings or on the tribes people’s clothing. Today elements of that same geometric pattern is instilled in every Dion Horstmans piece.
Metal is one of the more difficult materials to work with in art but it’s never deterred this artist. Steel will always be his paint to canvas and it’s here that Horstmans intricately shapes each piece through elongation, shortening, flattening and stretching.
There are no computers, no team of metal workers. Just one solo vision, two bare hands and some tools to help birth the organic detail through an explosion of heat and sparks.
The artist’s dedication to this old craft means that each piece is unique, captivating and organic.
This is the world of Dion Horstmans and it’s all he knows. It’s all he wants. And it’s a discipline he’ll be practicing for the rest of his life.
When Heavy Art Meets Fine Whiskey
Design is about balance. It’s a craftsman’s code which the master whiskey makers at Bushmills also follow – with a slight twist. Their own expression of emotive design? Flavour.
Bushmills was born on the 20th of April in 1608. On this particular day, King James I granted Sir Thomas Philips, the landowner, a license to distill. 400 years on and Bushmills is now the world’s oldest working distillery and it wasn’t luck that got them this far.
Even after a disastrous fire in 1885 which turned the Old Bushmills Distillery into ash, or even after a debilitating malt tax which turned many distillers off, Bushmills continued to flourish in their craft.
The whiskey maker kept to the philosophy that hand crafting small batches is the way to produce beautifully smooth tasting Irish whiskey. It’s a familiar philosophy to Dion Horstmans’ and the finished products both speak for themselves.
Striking. Bold. Smooth. Balanced. All are expressions one can describe of the unionship between heavy art and fine whiskey.
Bushmills Black Bush features a deep amber colour with a rich spice and tea leaf nose, this new expression credits its flavour profile to the ageing process within Oloroso Sherry casks.
From here a high amount of malt whiskey from the casks is then combined with a sweet, batch-distilled grain whiskey. It’s a unique recipe in a light bodied Irish whiskey which allows Black Bush to showcase rich, fruity notes and a deep intense character, balanced by smoothness.
Enjoying it neat or over ice is up to you. Welcome to the new paths for old crafts.