Big Red and IronHorse

June 2019

Acrylic on canvas

150H x 180cm


Larger than life, Steve was something of a local legend to Bendigo. Instantly recognisable by his flaming red beard, you could spot him well before you heard his great gruff voice and booming belly laugh. He had strong opinions, smoked and drank, but this big bear loved lollies and junk food like a child, and his grandchildren climbed him like a tree. Steve was truly idolised by those who loved him and he happily took everyone along for the ride, turning his passions to gold with a Midas touch.

At 6ft 7.5in tall, Steve was a giant in every sense of the word: in character, in body and in business. In 1987, he started Bendigo Truck Centre from humble beginnings in a small shed at Kangaroo Flat; the shed could only hold one truck at a time. Through many years of hard work he developed strong relationships with his customers both at the truck dealership and at Harley Central. He was a people-loving magnet. On his travels to America, Steve liked to find other giants to hang out with and say “y’all” to, covering 16,000km of the country’s roads on his Harley Davidson bike.

This portrait captures a moment of the man seated on his beloved blue American IronHorse Chopper, a shiny bright blue motorcycle he ordered from the U.S.A. and rebuilt himself. The watermelon-shaped vintage matte helmet is of the highly illegal type and the black boots are size ginormous. A crowd of monochrome bearded ghosts from biker past line the sunlit grove and look on at Steve from behind dark shades.

In late September 2013, Steve passed away from heart failure in his sleep, aged just 51 years young. His wife, Dianne, said his energy and spirit could be felt all around for a long time after he was gone. The painting is a tribute to his life and the indelible mark he left on his family and friends, and will hang in brand new sales office and café, Barr and Wells, at Harley Central, 231 High Street, Kangaroo Flat. In loving memory of Steve Elliott, b. 1962 d. 2013.

Big Red and IronHorse, Harley Central, Bendigo