Ep. #74 – Alan Dawson “WW1, 100 years later, 300 International Blacksmiths and Farriers”

For today’s show, I talk with Alan Dawson from the UK, he’s an artist blacksmith who has worked in art and architectural metalwork for over 35 years. Alan Dawson Associates have produced innovative, high quality, bespoke metalworks for all types of projects and he’s one of the founding members of BABA, the British Artist Blacksmith Association.  He’s also one of the core group of members that is organizing the Ypres 2016 international blacksmithing event in Belgium.  The event is a 100-year memorial commemorating all who have been affected by WW1, a 23 ft tall cenotaph surrounded by 2016 poppies and 25 panels depicting the trenches will be erected next to a German war cemetery in Belgium.  The 25 panels will be made onsite over a 6 day period by 25 Masters who will have a team of six blacksmiths each.  Alan has designed a panel in memory of a particular story from WW1 which is about the Jones brothers and he’s also made 40 poppies for the event.  We talk about the logistics it takes to pull off such a large event and about the panel competition review and winners.

2016-06-08_17-36-37 fish handling gates stone fall gate

What We Talked About

  • The event takes place in September 2016 to arrange the meeting of 300 to 400 blacksmiths and farriers from around the world. They will erect a 22-foot cenotaph surrounded by 2016 poppies and 25 panels to form a lasting memorial for all who were affected by WW1.
  • There is a core group that is organizing this large international event, there are 8 in the group. The group also has help from country representatives, a group of blacksmiths in the UK and Hereford College students are also helping.
  • The idea started in 2009 when a group of UK blacksmiths collaborated on a large sculpture called the “Pillar of Friendship” in Liverpool UK. Luc Vandacasteele, a Belgian smith, started thinking about doing another collaborative blacksmith event in Ypres, Belgium because of the importance of the Menin Gate, a memorial built in 1927 for soldiers that were never found. Luc brought the idea to the BABA Association to see if they would like to help with the organization of the event.
  • Luc has done a tremendous amount of work in the way of organization of donated materials for the sculpture. He has coordinated the donation of services and materials for local businesses.
  • The companies that have donated their services and materials are:
    • A German steel supplier donated the material for the cenotaph. The raw material for the cenotaph alone costs just over 10,000 euros, its 23 ft tall, 6 ft wide, 4 inches thick and 12.5 tons.
    • A Belgian engineering company donated their cutting services to plasma cut the positive and negative part of the poppy in the cenotaph.
    • Another Belgian company donated their services to making the steel frame that will mount the cenotaph.
    • A Belgian concrete company has donated the pre-cast concrete mound that will hold the 2016 poppies.
    • Transportation of materials, structural engineering calculations, and many other services have been done free of charge.
  • The core group is still working on raising the remaining money needed, about 80,000 pounds to cover the setup of the market with tents, forges, anvils, swage blocks, etc all in one day, also to reimburse the 25 masters will incur for traveling to the event. A crowd funding campaign has been started to raise the funds, you can see and donate here, https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/ypres-2016-blacksmith-farrier-cenotaph#/
  • This blacksmith event is one of many in the town of Ypres happening for the centennial commemoration of the great war. Luc applied to the Ypres mayor years ago to have access to the center market for a week long blacksmith event.
  • For the last 90 years, every night at 8 o’clock the local fire brigade provides buglers who play the last post at Menin Gate. The building is always full to capacity and for those who have applied ahead of time, there is a chance to lay a wreath in memory of a loved one. The core group has arranged for a blacksmith ceremony at Menin Gate one of the nights, it will include laying a wreath of poppies forged from children around the world.
  • Alan recommends for us to read about the Jones Brothers, the article is on the Ypres 2016 website, http://www.ypres2016.com/category/the-great-war-stories/. A sample panel has been forged in honor of the Jones boys.
  • The 25 panels that will surround the cenotaph will have interpretive information about each design so the half a million visitors per year can connect to WW1 and the memorial. 10 masters were invited and have accepted to design and make a panel each. 15 more blacksmiths have been chosen through a competition that was held internationally. Seven members of the core group reviewed 104 designs that were submitted for the competition. The 25 masters that have been chosen are:
    • SHONA JOHNSON – SCOTLAND
    • KHEIR AKER – ISREAL
    • TAKAYOSHI KOMINE – JAPAN
    • PETER DE BEUS – BELGUIM
    • WILL MAGUIRE – AUSTRALIA
    • FRANSISCO GAZITUA – CHILI
    • ACHIM KUHN – GERMANY
    • VLADAMIR SOKHONEVICH – RUSSIA
    • JEFFRY FUNK – AMERICA
    • SANDRA DUNN – CANADA
    • STEVEN LAURIJS – NETHERLANDS
    • JIM WHITSON – SCOTLAND
    • EGOR BAVYKIN – RUSSIA
    • ONDREJ GELA – CZECHOSLOVAKIA
    • AMBROSE BURNE – UNITED KINGDOM
    • IVAN KADOCHNIKOV – RUSSIA
    • ROBERTO GIORDANI – ITALY
    • ALEXANDER SUSHNIKOV – RUSSIA
    • GIOVANNI SARTORI – ITALY
    • JAMES MAKELY – AMERICA
    • BENJAMIN KJELLMAN-CHAPIN – NORWAY
    • JACOB HAGGERTY – UNITED KINGDOM
    • PATRICK PELGROMS – BELGIUM
    • PHILIP VERCAMMEN – BELGIUM
    • PAUL MIKULA – SOUTH AFRICA
  • There is an opportunity to register as a delegate to have the opportunity to forge with the master’s teams. The registration sign up is on the website here, http://www.ypres2016.com/delegate-registration/
  • An exhibition of curated forged work will also be set up next to the event called “Transitions”. Delyth Done is in charge of curating and organizing the exhibition.  The exhibition will continue to tour around Europe after the Ypres event.

Guest Links

A Big Thank You to today’s sponsor, Ypres 2016 International Blacksmith event,  ypres logo

If you enjoyed this episode, I would love it if you would support the show by:

Thanks so much for your support!

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.