A Weekend in Ukraine: Gabriel Chaille
Published on 25.05.16
The blacksmithing festival in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, is one of the major annual festivals celebrating hot metal and one of the few that falls within the academic year. Last year, Rhodri Schewela-Davies flew solo and attended the festival. This year, four students and one of last year’s graduates decided on an adventure. I spent the whole week
The blacksmithing festival in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, is one of the major annual festivals celebrating hot metal and one of the few that falls within the academic year.
Last year, Rhodri Schewela-Davies flew solo and attended the festival. This year, four students and one of last year’s graduates decided on an adventure. I spent the whole week checking out their Facebook stories, where I discovered this amazing piece of footage which apparently appeared on Ukrainian television. Thank heavens for Google Translate, otherwise I would have been convinced that Gabe was now married. He assured me that this was in fact part of the opening ceremony. Check out the film and see what you think.
Reflecting on his crazy week away, Gabe writes:
“Blacksmithing is special. All around the world there are events where smiths of all backgrounds can come, learn, compete, and connect as equals, as members of an international community. Ivano-Fankivsk is one such place, a city that is immensely proud of its heritage as a centre for the art of blacksmithing.
Four current HCA students and one graduate made the trip to the festival this year and what an amazing experience it was. We were introduced to Olga and Sergio, the couple who have headed up the event for the past 14 years or so, they were so kind to us and really made us feel like we were at home. This was the first time that I had been to a country where I did not even know how to say hello in that language, but we had no reason for concern, soon after our arrival our team was assigned two translators who spent the next two and a half days helping us do the things that needed doing and say the things that needed saying.
The forging event itself was one of the craziest experiences I have ever been a part of, surrounded by the sounds and smells of 5 forges and nearly twice as many teams working away in a frenzy of activity, laughing, talking, working, eating, and drinking together. We spent two full days forging and each evening we would listen to presentations from some very talented smiths, before enjoying a meal and celebrating with our newfound friends.
After the forging we took an excursion into the Carpathian Mountains which was an entirely different experience, peaceful and stunningly beautiful, time for reflection and getting to know the people who we had connected with. Many of them will be going to the event in Ypres and I look forward to seeing them there, others will not and I look forward to seeing them again next year when I return, because to be sure, I will be going back!”
Looking at all the photographs, and hearing a few of the stories, it’s clear they had a fantastic time and are busy creating a lifetime network of smiths across the world. I have no doubt that they will return. This isn’t just a course; for so many of our students it’s their passion.