Started in the week following the fires of Feb 2009, the Blacksmiths Tree Project emerged from the ashes of Black Saturday. As the world watched horrific footage, an international community of strangers hammered their feelings into metal leaves as a mark of respect for the losses suffered in this area. A whirlwind of web activity followed and four years on, over 3000 metal leaves have been sculpted and sent, with heart felt messages from around the world, as a gift to those in fire affected communities across the Victoria.

Photo by Amanda Gibson
Photo by Amanda Gibson

A 2 tonne forged trunk, metal branches and multitudes of leaves have been painstakingly assembled in Whittlesea to form a 9m tall sculpture. Produced on volunteer labour it goes part-way to marking the monumental losses experienced by those in fire affected communities in Victoria. Due to be installed in the fragile township of Strathewen over summer, the tree will be unveiled at a public event on 30 Nov in Whittlesea Township. Given the breadth of the community connected to this project over time it is likely the day will be an emotionally charged, joyous, poignant, powerful celebration. An event that reminds us of the global statement made on a very personal level, in the wake of disaster.

This whole process is remarkable and ephemeral. This project will document it as a community media arts work available for multiple platforms. It will be posted on the website of the tree project and made available for public exhibition in future.

…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.