The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe Investing in Rural Areas
Connection, process, joy, creativity and ingenuity in forged metal
The #150mmchallenge has brought together artist blacksmiths from around the world, inspiring playful creativity. Its fusion of physical and digital engagement has galvanised thinkers and writers into examining the role of craft in contemporary society and to frame these conversations in a new way.
A celebration of process, material, creativity and ingenuity in forged metal, the #150mmchallenge was originally conceived by Ambrose Burne as “a self-posed challenge to enable me to create a physical ‘calling card’, an object that communicated the potential of forging” (Finney, 2021). As course tutor at Hereford College of Arts, home to the UK’s only Artist Blacksmithing degree course, Ambrose decided it was a great way to give his students a ‘warm-up’ challenge. He asked them to create something interesting out of a small rectangular piece of steel, 150mm x 20mm x 20mm. Students posted photos of their completed artworks onto the course Instagram account, @herefordanvils, using the hashtag #150mmchallenge.
None of us foresaw the attention the project would generate – the challenge ‘went viral’, capturing the interest of artist blacksmiths everywhere and resulting in exhibitions that toured Europe and America to much acclaim. Each exhibition displayed a curated collection of metal objects, selected from over 400 submissions by amateur and professional blacksmiths from around the world. The artworks displayed a multiplicity of design and function, from playful figurative models to utilitarian tools to abstract sculptures, demonstrating a diverse, creative and technical exploration of form and concept made in response to the challenge.