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
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.
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.
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.
It was a beautiful, touching, memorable day out at the public launch of the completed Blacksmith’s Tree. I spent much of my time filming as unobtrusively as possible, giving people the space they clearly wanted and needed with The Tree.
Many touched the trunk and held out their hands to rub a leaf. Kids searched for the ladybug and caterpiller and others sought out family names from their parent’s shoulders.
Here’s a sample of what I’ve received so far… and with that a very special thank you to everyone who has and will continue to make this project evolve. There’s still plenty of time to send through your photos and videos.
Hi! I’m Andrew Garton, a community media arts producer, and I’m producing a unique documentary about The Blacksmith’s Tree Project with the good folks at the City of Whittlesea and The Dunmoochin Foundation.
The documentary is made by us, by those of us who have been involved in The Tree Project, either directly or indirectly. You can be involved in this participatory documentary project by sharing the photos and videos you may have taken at any stage of the creation of The Tree Project, in particular the public unveiling of the completed Blacksmith’s Tree on Saturday 30 November 2013.
You may have used a smart phone… That’s acceptable. You can email your photos to me, publish them online (e.g. Instagram, Flickr) using the hashtag #ourtreedoco, or share you files here.
What we’re looking for?
We’re looking for your personal interactions with The Tree. We’re also interested in what you have to say about it too.
What will happen to your photos and videos?
We can’t promise that everything you send us is will end up in the final work, but we should have at least something from everyone compiled into public exhibition of video and sound.
All photos and videos submitted to the project will only be used for Our Tree which will be screened in public, within galleries and available on the Internet.
As The Blacksmith’s Tree was made collectively so too is Our Tree. We can tell the story about how it was made through the eyes of all who had recorded the many facets of its creation.
…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.