Forged from Fire tells the story of how an Australian and international community of blacksmiths, welders, artists and volunteers responded to the devastating Black Saturday bush-fires by creating perhaps the most ambitious public artwork and memorial in Australia – a three tonne, 9.8 meter tall stainless steel and copper gum tree – The Blacksmiths’ Tree. Blacksmiths from 20 countries forged 3500 copper gum leaves, others the branches and a solid stainless steel trunk. Forged from Fire is a documentary about the personal journeys of these artisans and volunteers and how their creativity united fire affected individuals and families.
Leading the Blacksmiths’ Tree project is artist, graphic designer and the 2014 Nillumbik Shire Citizen of The Year, Amanda Gibson. Teaming up with seasoned blacksmiths she not only navigates the emotional contours of communities in grief, she must draw on skills and capacities she had not known were available to her. Amanda faces technical and logistical challenges whilst handling the increasing aspirations of all who have joined her, from the women who learn to weld and help to complete the project to the thousands of people who contributed financial and voluntary support, many whose testimonials are stamped into the 3500 leaves that comprise the canopy.
The Blacksmiths’ Tree was an unusual, inspirational and instinctive response to the devastating effects of loss and the life that was seen to flourish in the aftermath of the Black Saturday fires. Forged from Fire plumbs the depths of this heart-warming human response, documenting a remarkable social history – one that will hopefully never have cause to occur again.
Forged from Fire is a production of Secession/Films.