11 April 2023

Who is Darla? Mystery surrounds Whitehead's new bossy lady

| Oliver Jacques
Start the conversation
scrap metal sculpture

Darla is nice but looks cranky. Photo: Andrew Whitehead.

A sassy-looking lady being created by Urana-based artist Andrew Whitehead is sending social media into a buzz.

Known only as ”Darla”, Facebook posts chronicling her creation – from her stiletto heels to her skinny bum, sinister eyes and chunky pigtails – have been attracting thousands of views.

Whitehead has made more than 20 sculptures from recycled material, which are on public display all over rural NSW and Queensland. Region has been told Darla will make her way to the main street of a prominent Riverina town by August, but the purchaser wants to keep the exhibit a surprise.

READ ALSO ‘Mad Maximus’ scrap iron sculpture to greet visitors entering Griffith

“I’m hoping they elevate Darla so that people in wheelchairs can come and see the facial expressions. People could walk along and feel like a child,” Whitehead said.

Darla is mostly made from agricultural tillage points, which farmers use to dig the soil up.

“There’s a lot of farm tools, spanners, wires and ball bearings. Her bottom lip is made from some threaded rods … her lower arms are made from knife guards taken off an old grain harvester.

”The arms look simple and undecorated. This is because I want them to contrast with Darla’s dress, including the beautiful flowers and bows my wife Daphne made for this project.

”The pigtails are heavy-duty chain links. The stiletto heels are rock/pavement-crushing teeth.”

Hundreds of comments on social media about Darla have mostly been glowing.

“Looking good, and you are a hairdresser as well?” one poster asked.

But the occasional critic has wondered whether her cranky demeanour portrays women in a negative light. The artist says there is nothing to worry about as she’ll exemplify female empowerment.

“She is actually very nice, but she is cranky at the moment because somebody has been stealing from her.”

scrap metal sculpture

Darla from behind. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

Whitehead has revealed Darla won’t be alone, she’ll have at least one hefty companion beside her, whom he won’t call fat.

“You’ve got to be careful how you describe people these days. Let’s just say he’s a child who has a passion for eating.”

Darla’s purchaser, who will remain anonymous until the exhibit is unveiled, described her as “a bossy little sister who was being left out of a game”.

“It’s going to look great on the main street and show how wonderful our community can be. We have a great relationship with Andrew and really admire his art,” the buyer said.

READ ALSO Mystery Canberra donor’s $55,000 gift launches Riverina youth suicide prevention program

The Urana artist is a former soldier and diesel mechanic who only discovered his new talent after he turned 50.

“I had a divorce and the new wife said, ‘Go to the shed and do something creative’,” Whitehead explained.

“I built a cow, and the week I finished, there was an art show and someone said, ‘Take it to the show’. It won first prize. I beat real artists. I thought I was an imposter.”

man with his sculpture

Andrew Whitehead next to his Mad Maximus. Photo: Oliver Jacques.

In January 2023, his unique gladiator and chariot-type sculpture named Mad Maximus was unveiled in Griffith, outside Caesars Furniture Store, and visible to those driving into the town.

Updates on Darla, and all of Whitehead’s work, can be found on his Facebook Page.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Riverina news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riverina stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.