Forged and fabricated bowls using mild steel and one other softer metal such as copper, bronze or brass.
Focusing on single deformation press forging, these objects are a continuation of my interest in the hidden qualities of metal, and exposing them through the act of forging.
Sculpture on the Gulf, Waiheke Island, 2019.
Corten steel plate. Dome head rivets.
Fabricated and riveted steel sections.
‘Brunel’s Kingdom’ is a fabricated steel structure which draws its end form from historically essential European construction practices inherently associated with the industrial revolution, and bridges them with an iconic piece of Aotearoa, and in particular Waiheke Island’s, natural landscape.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel was an English engineer in the 19th century, responsible for ground breaking designs and mammoth feats of large scale construction. During his time, the art of blacksmithing contributed greatly to the development of new ideas and the Industrial Revolution. Forging metals played a key role in the pursuance of societal advancement and was the pole that vaulted mankind into the quagmire of mass production.
Our modern construction industry is held aloft by a steel skeleton born directly from the industrialised womb of the Old World. It enables us to span large distances, shelters us from the inconveniences of our planet, and provides us with a sense of security. These methods contain visual data that directly reference 19th century technique: Steel profiles engineered for maximum strength and resistance, and rivets replaced with high tensile bolts but with very similar placement patterns, for example.
Today, the perils of industrialisation and its environmental impact are very apparent. And yet the question has to be asked: “Where would we be without it?” As Brunel’s inventions and the industrial revolution as a whole undoubtedly caused untold damage to the natural world we now so cherish, so did they inspire many following generations of engineers and contributed significantly to technological growth. By bringing the two elements together, natural form coalesced with industrial process, I hope to bring to the viewer a sense of understanding of the important symbiotic role they currently and historically have played in our existence on our planet.
The hard lines of the finished work have taken inspiration directly from the hammer marks left from large scale forging machines, which were vital during the revolution and which I have used throughout my entire career. The lines of rivets holding the sections together are immediately recognisable as jointing methods from 18th century steel construction, which still stand around the world today, and the patterns of which are recognisable in modern building methods. Riveting steel structures together like this has been another foundation of my education and subsequent career as a blacksmith, and links the work directly with the past, Brunel and the legacy he left us.
Brunel was a huge inspiration for me as a child. I was fascinated by the sheer scale of his mind, and equally so by the forces required to manipulate the massive blocks of steel needed to bring his ideas to life. I am often asked: “Why did you choose to be a Blacksmith?” and I reply that it was because of an early introduction to Brunel and his Kingdom of steel.
Forged and fabricated steel sculpture based on a native New Zealand flower.
Made for Headland Sculpture on the Gulf.
In nearly every manufacturing practice, there are pieces of excess material. These fall away or break free from the intended end form. They are often simply discarded, or reshaped into something completely different, thrown away as rubbish or re-sold as scrap. However it has long been known how important these pieces are when examined in an historical context as they reveal secrets from the maker, their tools, activity, practice and intention.
Scrap, waste, unwanted and outdated, there are many things that litter our world from a bygone era, and as we move forward, from our current world which will remain as a legacy of our time. However, they also speak of the hand that made them. In New Zealand we often see evidence of colonisation rusting away in fields. Old boilers, bridges, riveted steel. We find axes from forestry and logging, agricultural equipment from farming, we walk on old train lines in the bush, and we visit unwanted and forgotten machinery, long ago abandoned and too heavy to move.
With “Off-Cuts” I intend to capture the feeling of a discarded and unwanted relic from the industry that influenced the development of Waiheke Island and New Zealand so much during European settlement and occupation. By forging 3 large billets of solid steel and piling them in a seemingly random fashion, they will appear to the viewer as remnants left over from a bygone era. “Off-Cut” will fit into the surrounds on the island as an historical work, and a reminder of past hands that have worked and shaped the land. At the same time, the sense of the heat and intense power involved with distorting massive solid steel such as this will be extremely evident and captivating to the viewer.
With thanks to Creative New Zealand for the funding support.
Steel is a material that forms the skeleton of our physical surrounds. Synonymous with the construction industry, it is considered a rigid and immovable material, an essential quality in the function of a structural support for architecture. It spans seemingly impossible stretches of space, shelters us from the inconveniences of our planet, and provides us with a sense of security.
We see these structures every day, in the utilitarian environment we build around us. Universal beams bolted together to form layers of a parking building, the stark underbelly of an overpass, the interlocking calculations of a bridge. All complex mathematical monuments to large scale industrial manufacturing practice.
Hidden underneath this skin of rigidity is an incredibly versatile composite that when heated or submitted to huge pressures, can take on nearly any form imaginable. Steel, when subjected to heavy impact, will respond with distortion, revealing the malleable nature it contains on a molecular level. In essence, it is as fluid as the natural environment it comes from. It is the material that realises the human desire to override the ephemeral nature of life on earth in our quest for permanence.
Designed and forged with fire welding for a private client who had limited space at the top of a set of stairs in their garden. The single sided arch provides passageway into the secluded section of the garden and the arch is installed in such a way as to allow a rose plant to grow up though the middle.
Hand and machine forged from 60mm and 40mm solid square bar, “Argument” is a work based on abstract human form. Depicting two people inherently connected to each other yet trapped in disagreement, it is the intent of the piece to highlight the difficulties often experienced by two parties with opposing philosophical approaches to life.
Often, as with families, political parties, business relationships etc, we have no choice but to engage with people we feel morally disconnected with. How we respond to these emotionally challenging situations can shape our futures fundamentally.
Hand made knives produced using age-old forging techniques.
Fire welding multiple steel layers together in a clean coal fire and over the anvil with a hand hammer produces a tough and unique composite.
Particularly suited to knife making, pattern welded steel delivers a high grade material with an exquisite surface pattern once the layers of dissimilar metals is revealed.
Axe making is a very traditional aspect of the blacksmiths art, and has been an essential skill for many hundreds of years.
After a trip to Slovenia and Ljubjiana Castle museum, where there are bearded axes on display, I decided to develop my own methods for forging a bearded axe head from two pieces of steel. This involves a complex process which includes traditional methods employed by the blacksmith such as fire welding using a clean coke fire.
Bearded axe heads can be used for a variety of applications, such as chopping kindling, splitting, ageing timbers and carving, with the bearded blade protecting the hand for fine, close work.
Made to order upon request.
Forged and fabricated steel and copper gateway for a private client.
Designed with an organic art nouveau base and over layered with a dark twist to meet the clients wishes.
Fully automated with in-ground actuators for seamless invisible function.
Forged and fabricated garden gate for clients who live in an exquisite, historically relevant home in Auckland city.
Hand forged mortis and tenon jointing and Roman hinging give a traditional feel while the overall design takes a fantastical approach to match the direction and will of the clients.
Industrial steel fabricated table and chairs for a client who required maximum space utilisation.
Raw steel finish.
Timber element made by Peter Carter at PCR.
A small object, marked out with a scriber, chiseled to shape and chased with small punches which give the form life.
Early pieces from 2003, inspired by the photographic work of Karl Blossfeldt.
Industrial steel work for a hair salon in Parnel, Auckland.
Designed by Material Creative, built and installed with PCR Construction.
An exhibition of eight artists at silo park in Auckland, New Zealand.
Front door made from layers of 3mm steel plate and overlaid with riveted strapping.
Hand made grave markers designed as a unique and lasting memorial to loved ones.
Hand forged set of fire side instruments. Custom designed and made with bevel block deformation hand grips based on my Off-Cuts sculpture from the Sculpture on the Gulf 2017 Waiheke Island exhibition.
Fabricated form. Corten Steel and rivets.
Further exploring the industrial revolution impact concept from Brunel’s Kingdom, this small work draws its form from mid 19th century bridge building practices combined with natural forms found on Waiheke Island.