“My sculptural work explores the fundamental structure of steel as a material synonymous with the construction industry. My work focuses specifically on the effects of pressure, stored energy, and captured instances of intense heat and violent force. This is essentially stripping back my interest in blacksmithing to the beginning: The manipulation of metal through the use of heat and force. This concentrates on the effects of severe impact, and as such, avoids the temptation to control the material absolutely. By the act of subjecting the chosen material to these forces and allowing it to react as it will, the works become an observation of the fundamental properties the material holds.” - Jon Hall, 8@6, Silo Park, 2013.
I am a traditionally trained Blacksmith, having served an unofficial apprenticeship with an industrial tool smith in Eastbourne, Wellington roughly 20 years ago.
Upon completing my apprenticeship, I spent 9 years as a journeyman blacksmith, which consisted of 6 months in Australia, 14 months in England and the rest of the time on mainland Europe, predominantly in Southern Germany. During this journeyman’s apprenticeship I worked for a wide variety of artist blacksmiths and sculptors, each utilising differing approaches to the placement of traditional craft within the art world.
Upon returning to New Zealand, I helped set up a sculpture studio in West Auckland with John Edgar, Sarah Munro, Joe Sheehan and Desna Whaanga-Schollum. This ran as a great and inspirational workplace for about 4 years.
From here, I set up my own space within a large engineering workshop in West Auckland where I now produce work which bridges between two disciplines. One one side I produce applied arts which hold true to the tradition of decorative ironwork in the form of gates/entranceways, furniture, window grilles, Grave markers, and so on. On the other side I produce sculptural works which attempt to reflect on how I see the world: The surroundings we build for ourselves, the historical importance of steel/metal throughout human history, and how it reflects upon us as a species constantly striving for permanence in a world that promises anything but the rigidity we require.
The tools I use on a daily basis consist of traditional blacksmithing equipment and methods, but also utilise modern methods of fabrication and construction. These modern methods are interesting to me when used to produce works which directly replicate and reflect situations that we see in our everyday environment.
“Steel is a material that forms the skeleton of our physical surrounds. 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.” - Jon Hall, “Structure” Allpress Studio, 2015
Jon Hall - Forging Studio
28F Aetna Place