THERE are certain arts and crafts that are typically perceived as irrelevant today. But Tim Bignell is determined to prove that blacksmithing is not among them.
The 34-year-old Ballarat blacksmith has spent years mastering his chosen art, demonstrating how his work is not synonymous with making horse shoes.
With a bachelor of visual arts and a certificate III in engineering (blacksmithing), it wasn’t until Mr Bignell was asked to help out at Sovereign Hill’s blacksmith shop G.M. Dilges 11 years ago that he discovered his true passion.
“I worked out very quickly that I enjoyed it and I knew that this was the sort of thing I was into,” Mr Bignell said.
As well as crafting the typical horse shoe, Mr Bignell likes to think outside the box, creating objects out of the ordinary.
The blacksmith has worked on projects including staircases, cellar doors, ceiling brackets, fire grates and garden ornaments.
“Even though we have set stock we have to make at Sovereign Hill, I do enjoy it when someone comes off the street and asks if I can make something different,” Mr Bignell said.
Mr Bignell was this year awarded the Ballarat Arts Foundation VJ Award, which he said would support his professional development and allow him to travel to Europe later this year.
His travels will include visits to Italy and Ireland, as well as the Czech Republic, where he will attend Europe’s largest blacksmithing conference.
In addition to this award, Mr Bignell recently received the Churchill Fellowship, providing him with further funding for his trip.
He said his travels would allow him to gain skills and knowledge in traditional blacksmithing techniques.
“The knowledge, skills and new design concepts I’m after are not readily available in Australia and they have different techniques and approaches in Europe,” he said.
Referring to himself as an industrial blacksmith with artistic ambitions, Mr Bignell said he enjoyed his art because of the hands-on and design aspect.
“People say blacksmithing is a dying art and that’s the general perception, but out of the rare trades it is the most common and I want to raise awareness that it is still relevant and it’s very versatile.”