TRA mechanic turns scrap into treasure with sculpted works

By Tseng Hung-ju and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Thu, Apr 11, 2013 - Page 3

For 30 years, Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) employee Yeh Shih-chin (葉時進) has been in charge of maintenance and repairs for the administration’s fleet of diesel railcars, but for the past two decades, he has been transformed into a scrap-metal artist during his noon break, remodeling components from scrapped railcars into sculptures.

Yeh, 55, devotes all his spare time at work to artistic pursuits, which aside from repurposing scrap metal and broken parts into pieces of art, also includes adorning the walls of his workshop with paintings.

The mechanic said he was inspired to develop his artistic side after going abroad and seeing that many factories often had various pieces of decorative art on display, a practice he said that the TRA should adopt.

Yeh said that he had always been interested in art and wanted to combine his passion with his work, which led him to use scrap metal and broken parts.

After making his first piece, Yeh said that whenever he was at work, he would be mentally designing new sculptures, and whenever he came across a part that fitted in with his idea, he would take it and fashion it into the form that he had sketched in his mind.

Over the past 20 years, Yeh said he has averaged one scrap-metal artwork per year, adding that though he is not mass producing artwork, he is happy that his work can be enjoyed by others.

Some of Yeh’s works have been placed outside the east gates of Taipei Railway Station, and one of his newest pieces — a sculpture of a Transformers robot 5.6m tall and 2.1m wide — is to be exhibited at the TRA’s recently opened Fugang Railway Workshop in Chiayi County’s Yangmei Township (楊梅).

“Creating scrap-metal art is a hobby, but more importantly, it fills me with a sense of accomplishment,” Yeh said.

He added that he had turned down an offer from a superior who had sought to encourage his creativity by offering to give him a merit mark for every piece of art he made.