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Timothy

Timothy Bignell

Year of Award: 2013 Award State: Victoria Arts - Visual > General
Trades > General
To obtain advanced skills and knowledge in traditional blacksmithing practices through international exposure - Italy, France, UK, Ireland
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My fellowship allowed me to travel through Europe gaining extensive skills and knowledge in traditional and contemporary blacksmithing techniques.

Firstly I attended Europe's largest blacksmithing conference in the Czech Republic, witnessing demonstrations, sharing ideas and taking part in the forging competition. I passed through Prague to observe the many examples of ironwork in the architecture on my way to visit the workshop of Fritz Kühn in Berlin. I then travelled to Italy to attend the European Biennial of the Blacksmith in Stia. Here I made many more contacts and met master craftsmen such as Claudio Bottero. I later took part in the world forging championships winning third place in the team event. I then stayed on and completed a week of training. From there I attended another conference in Belgium and was hosted by local blacksmiths. After that I visited Paris to view more architectural ironwork before heading to the UK to visit a blacksmithing school at Hereford College of Arts. While in the U.K. I visited two open-air museums that specialise in historical ironwork and attended anther conference. I also visited the workshops of some the U.K.’s best-known blacksmiths, Andrew Rowe, Phil Johnson, Stephen Lunn, Brian Russell and Peat Oberon, once again being hosted by local blacksmiths. The remaining focus was to work alongside and observe experienced blacksmiths at Bushy Park Ironworks in Dublin.


The project has greatly advanced my skills and knowledge in traditional and contemporary blacksmithing practices. When combined with my previous experience, this new knowledge will greatly assist me in preserving this rare trade well into the future. Throughout the fellowship I placed an emphasis on developing artistic disciplines of blacksmithing as I identified this as an area of relevance to me and in addressing skill shortages in Australia. The project also included opportunities to observe modern day ironworks facilities, allowing me to gain me new ideas and concepts in contemporary blacksmithing while building a greater network. The project also gave me a better understanding of the historical significance of blacksmithing and the skills I gain can also be applied to help preserve historic treasures.


With the implementation of my recommendations through my current employment and future projects, I can disseminate the new knowledge to peers, other staff, volunteers and enthusiasts that I am involved with on a daily basis through face-to-face contact. All are also able to access the network I develop. I have the opportunity to raise awareness of this rare trade and demonstrate its significance from colonial times to present day. Not only my extensive knowledge, the actual craft can be passed on.

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