Synopsis

Designer and metal artist Amanda Gibson gathers a team of seasoned blacksmiths from the world over to forge a life size stainless steel and copper gum tree within a community traumatised by fire. The Blacksmiths Tree was not without its challenges, but what it became for the people who anticipated its completion is something no one could have imagined.

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.

Forged from Fire is a participatory documentary about the personal journeys of these artisans and volunteers and how their creative processes united fire affected individuals and families.

Synopsis

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. Forged from Fire is a documentary about the personal journeys of these artisans and volunteers and how their creative processes 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.

Forged from Fire builds on a 12 minute exhibiting documentary that describes the creative and personal stories that led to the inaugural public unveiling of The Blacksmiths Tree on 30 November 2013. With the addition of liberal access to the final stages of the creative process – dramatic scenes of industrial welding and the critical skills involved in its install – the full length documentary attempts to unpack the motivations and post-traumatic growth experienced by the many people both involved with, and who have subsequently come into contact with The Blacksmiths Tree.

Cameras in the hands of welders, engineers, blacksmiths, volunteers, the general public, videographers and a handful of film-makers captured key moments in the creation of The Blacksmiths Tree. Complimented with interviews, observational, aerial and time-lapse footage, exceptional cinematography and underscored by music written by musicians who survived the fires, a tender and far reaching story is told of perseverance, resilience and transformation.

The Blacksmiths Tree was somehow an unusual, inspirational and instinctive response to the devastating effects of loss and the life that was seen to flourish in the aftermath of natural disaster. 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.

 

Financed with the assistance of Documentary Australia Foundation.

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…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.