In March, Hereford City Centre sparked into life during the ten days of Ferrous 22, a festival of artist blacksmithing that delivered engaging events, high-quality exhibitions and exciting demonstrations.

Produced in partnership with Hereford College of Arts and Hereford Business Improvement District, Ferrous is truly afestival like no other. It celebrates Artist Blacksmithing as an artform and a community of makers, and attracts blacksmiths from all over the world – as well as inviting the public to have fun and discover something new.

The event organisers were thrilled to see so many visitors exploring the exhibitions and enjoying all that Ferrous 22 had to offer. The popular Have a Go Forging event sold out weeks in advance and footfall in the city centre soared back to withinpre-covid levels, with over 148,000 visitors recorded over the 10 days of the festival.

The Have a Go Forging event saw dozens of artist blacksmithing students in their bright orange Ferrous t-shirts enthusiastically teaching members of the public how to make a tree support in the pop-up forging area in High Town. The metal supports were formed into many imaginative shapes,using heat, hammers and other tools on six mobile forges and accompanying anvils. Each participant was given a silver-birch sapling to plant in their garden, alongside their newly made metal tree support; everyone went away smiling and proud of what they had achieved.

Exhibitions were staged in established and vacant shops around the city, including photos of blacksmiths from around the world taken by Japanese photographer Jun Ishikura in Planet of the Blacksmiths at Powerhouse’s studios and an exhibition of work by current artist blacksmithing and craft students from Hereford College of Arts (HCA). 

The former Laura Ashley building, became home to the#getoutgetinspired exhibition, which aimed to inspire visitors to look at the world around them with fresh eyes and try something creative.  Artefacts from the Netherwood Estate’s ploughed fields were loaned to Ferrous and on display in the space, alongside work created by schoolchildren, HCA students and artist Anya Keeley. Young people who wanted to try out something creative could make clay ‘pinch pots’ or hammer tin-plate patterns in the accompanying Make Spaceand collect a Drawn to Nature activity book, created by artist Rebecca Finney.

Other exhibitions includedSharing is Caring II, a showcase of artistic metalwork from Sweden, the USA, Estonia, Germany and the UK, and Queer + Metals, an innovative exhibition from Birmingham’s Craftspace; the first exhibition in the UK to look at craft and making from the perspective of makers who identify as LGBTQ+.

In Hereford Cathedral, Iron Landscapes, brought together makers who are inspired by the landscape for a varied and rewarding trail of sculpture around the Cathedral that included small scale pieces and huge objects that towered over visitors. Meanwhile, Hereford Museum & Art gallery hosted Forging Replicas and Artefacts, an exhibition that explored the museum’s archives and collections and displayed them alongside metal objects made by HCA students, using methodologies from the past.

The exhibitions were complimented by a series of lectures, including a fascinating talk by Brian Hall, hosted by Hereford Cathedral, about the huge restoration project commissioned by the Victoria & Albert Museum on the Hereford Screen. Meanwhile, the Courtyard displayed Ferrous photographs and welcomed Jokum Lind-Jensen from Sweden, for a talk about his research into historic European metalwork. Over at Old Market Shopping, the Nowhere Forge demonstrated itssustainable, mobile workshop with forging demonstrations.

Ferrous looks forward to delivering even more exciting exhibitions and events when it returns to Hereford for its fourth festival in 2024.