At last I was able to personally visit ‘The Man on the Tyres’ since he’d been removed from his Sydney Rd site of over 80 years, and introduce myself.
Thanks to our Mayor, Jean Hay, I could find out where he was and get to sketch him.
My attachment to this loved local character, atop 80 or so tyres at Sinden’s Tyre & Rubber Company, started when we would drive down the hill to Manly years ago, and there he was – way way up in the air, cigar at his smiling lips and looking down at you waving to him.
In more recent years a cut down version was still in place on the site that is now an apartment block. Completely covered by overgrown trees not many people even knew he was still there. My sketches of him for last year’s Manly Festival piqued much interest.
This year he was taken down by landscapers doing up the gardens. Luckily John and Nick (who’s house opposite shows in the b/w photo above. And let me add, my Studio is in the building you can see, with the awning) happened to see him coming down. He was then taken to Council depot to await his fate, or restoration.
So it was quite a moment for me when Bob kindly lead the way to the big warehouse where he lies on a metal table – looking like he’s about to be wheeled into theatre. I’m aware very few have ever seen him close up.
It was just him, me and the pigeon cooing from the rafters above. He’s a bit worse for wear but certainly not done and dusted. I’m hoping the people who are keen to restore him will be able to. It may now require the permission of the apartment owners to get this well loved Manly icon polished up and back in a location for all to admire. I suggest outside the Manly Art Gallery along side the tall Norfolk pines and visible as you arrive by Manly ferry.
I did several sketches and felt so privileged to look into his green marble eyes, notice his once white teeth gripping the remains of a metal cigar. His square cut jaw, aqualine nose, dark painted sideburns and pleasant expression. A very good looking fellow indeed. All of his concrete face and metal hat are still in shape, but old layers of paint are weathered away.
His red suit looks like it’s made of very solid car upholstery and worked around a solid metal frame which somehow supported him all those long years. Restoration would certainly be possible.
Finally time to leave him alone with his memories with a few close up sketches which I will value highly.