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Human Rights Arts & Film Festival

OUR TREE – Forged from Fire screening at the Human Rights Arts & Film Festival.

As communities in Victoria supported each other through the aftermath of the Black Saturday fires, blacksmiths the world over united to create the most ambitious public artwork and memorial in Australia – The Blacksmiths Tree.

A week after Black Saturday a group of blacksmiths agreed to create from their own fires a gum tree that would not only survive another fire, it would unite fire affected communities across Victoria. Five years on, the completed Blacksmiths Tree was installed in Strathewen, on the same day as it was conceived – Valentines Day.
By combining locally composed music, stills, videos, time-lapse, aerial footage and interviews shot by blacksmiths, volunteers, film-makers and the general public, Our Tree – Forged From Fire, tells a story of how the idea of forging a few leaves gathered artisans with strong community traditions to create the 9.8 metre, 3 tonne stainless steel and copper Blacksmiths Tree.

Our Tree, an exhibiting documentary by Andrew Garton, illuminates stories of resilience and healing through the making of The Blacksmiths Tree, from its inception to its completion.

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Human Rights Arts & Film Festival

OUR TREE – Forged from Fire screening at The Human Rights Arts & Film Festival.

As communities in Victoria supported each other through the aftermath of the Black Saturday fires, blacksmiths the world over united to create the most ambitious public artwork and memorial in Australia – The Blacksmiths Tree.

A week after Black Saturday a group of blacksmiths agreed to create from their own fires a gum tree that would not only survive another fire, it would unite fire affected communities across Victoria. Five years on, the completed Blacksmiths Tree was installed in Strathewen, on the same day as it was conceived – Valentines Day.
By combining locally composed music, stills, videos, time-lapse, aerial footage and interviews shot by blacksmiths, volunteers, film-makers and the general public, Our Tree – Forged From Fire, tells a story of how the idea of forging a few leaves gathered artisans with strong community traditions to create the 9.8 metre, 3 tonne stainless steel and copper Blacksmiths Tree.

Our Tree, an exhibiting documentary by Andrew Garton, illuminates stories of resilience and healing through the making of The Blacksmiths Tree, from its inception to its completion

Human Rights Arts & Film Festival

OUR TREE – Forged from Fire screening at The Human Rights Arts & Film Festival.

As communities in Victoria supported each other through the aftermath of the Black Saturday fires, blacksmiths the world over united to create the most ambitious public artwork and memorial in Australia – The Blacksmiths Tree.

A week after Black Saturday a group of blacksmiths agreed to create from their own fires a gum tree that would not only survive another fire, it would unite fire affected communities across Victoria. Five years on, the completed Blacksmiths Tree was installed in Strathewen, on the same day as it was conceived – Valentines Day.
By combining locally composed music, stills, videos, time-lapse, aerial footage and interviews shot by blacksmiths, volunteers, film-makers and the general public, Our Tree – Forged From Fire, tells a story of how the idea of forging a few leaves gathered artisans with strong community traditions to create the 9.8 metre, 3 tonne stainless steel and copper Blacksmiths Tree.

Our Tree, an exhibiting documentary by Andrew Garton, illuminates stories of resilience and healing through the making of The Blacksmiths Tree, from its inception to its completion

Our Tree in the making

It’s been around three months since I’ve received photos and videos from Our Tree project contributors. At last count 708 individual photos and a handful of videos, mostly from the 30 November 2013 public unveiling of The Tree, have been sent through.

With The Tree being prepared for its life in the open I took the opportunity to shoot some additional interviews and as much detail of The Tree as possible. This I was able to achieve the Our Tree’s Director of Photography, Mike Wilkson. Mike was keen to work with me after seeing The Tree at the Whittlesea Showgrounds. We’ve literally forged a unique collaboration that will see us work together for this and I suspect many other projects to come.

Mike shot some of the loveliest detail you will see of The Tree using both 50mm and 100mm lenses and a Cineslider.

Detail of copper and stainless steel foliage.
Detail of copper and stainless steel foliage.
Detail of one of the branches.
Detail of one of the branches.

A couple of weeks ago I was grateful to have been given a box of mini-DV tapes, footage shot by local film-maker Warwick Page, covering the around the first two years of The Blacksmith’s Tree in the making.

Ten tapes all up, eight of which could be viewed and digitized. An unusual error prevented me from seeing two of these tapes. In spite of that, there’s 127 gigabytes of video to work with.

There’s video covering the first public events blacksmith’s held in St Andrews, Hilderbrand Road and Eltham. Including the first meetings with engineers and interviews with key personnel and the individuals from Black Saturday fire affected communities.

Doug Tarrent, St Andrews, 2009.
Doug Tarrent, St Andrews, 2009. Courtesy Warwick Page.

I’m currently working on an Our Tree 10 minute micro-doc which will comprise one of three video channels for exhibition. With a core team now working with me, including emerging producer Laura Emerick, and colleagues at the City of Whittlesea, Dunmoochin and The Tree Project itself, I’m hoping the micro-doc will be a precursor to a full length documentary covering both the local and international stories that have given life to The Blacksmith’s Tree.

Andrew Garton