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WA police donate guns for artworks

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In an unusual collaboration between Perth artists and police, firearms handed over under a gun amnesty have been transformed into objects of beauty.

A total of 1281 firearms were handed in by members of the public over three months this year. Police donated them to Edith Cowan University’s art department after they had been dismantled.

Detective Inspector Dale Davies said the parts could not be reused for dangerous purposes and had instead been turned into evocative art pieces.

“Some of them are absolutely extraordinary,” Det Insp Davies told reporters.

Art curator of ECU’s permanent collection Sue Starcken, who has produced a print triptych made from machete blades used as etching plates, said artists scrambled to take part in the project because it was a rare chance to work with beautifully designed but potentially deadly objects.

The university’s curatorial technician, Stuart Elliott, has converted a rifle butt into a salt shaker, with gingham adornment at the bottom a nod to both the distinctive check pattern used by police and culinary homeliness.

The piece entitled A Salt Rifle is clearly intended to draw smiles, but Elliott’s Trench Broom has a darker meaning.

It refers to a World War I submachine gun that was hailed as being more effective for clearing out trenches of soldiers than bayonets. But in this case, it looks like a sinister household cleaning tool.

“To see a Lee-Enfield [rifle] chopped up in Belmont rather than being shredded on the battlefield is a good thing,” Elliott said.

The artworks will be displayed and auctioned at the university’s Spectrum Gallery from April 28 to May 15, with part proceeds going to Bright Blue, a fund for sick children.

The last time WA police held a gun amnesty, only 160 were relinquished.

One of the firearms brought in this year turned out to be a valuable antique and was handed back to the elderly owner.