Hear from current student Sam Matthijs on what it’s like to be part of our BA (Hons) Artist Blacksmithing course here at HCA.
Discover a course that prides itself on challenging preconceptions about historical traditions of blacksmithing. This course places artist blacksmithing at the heart of contemporary craft practice.
Artist Blacksmithing is a material focussed programme with an emphasis on learning through doing. You will receive technical tuition as well as expert design guidance. You will explore the elemental processes of combining metal, fire, air and water to make original hot forged metal objects.
The course encourages innovative thinking and skilled making across a breadth of practice – from architectural design, to interior products and sculpture. You will become an independent thinker and self-motivated maker. Over 3 years you will be equipped with all the skills and knowledge you need to earn your living through your creativity.
HCA is an independent college that provides a friendly, supportive educational learning environment with a strong peer community, both within each course and between disciplines. As a degree student here, you will benefit from expert support and guidance to fully develop your creative potential.
This Key Information document gives you a summary of the core characteristics of the BA (Hons) Artist Blacksmithing degree at HCA.
You will develop technical skills with forged metal through both taught and self-directed projects. You will also learn to gather and analyse research material, then draw on this material and process it through different media as part of the design process.
Your intellectual engagement with your practice will be nourished through regular discussion groups and seminars. You will benefit from talks by visiting lecturers from industry. Our students have enjoyed talks from visiting lecturers such as: Jamie Price, David Tucker, Alan Dawson, Tobias Birgersson, Karl Hallburg, Prof. Heiner Zimmerman, Prof. Richard Smith, Francisco Gazitua and Peter Parkinson. You will be encouraged to articulate your ideas through written and visual presentations as well as verbally in one-to-one tutorials and peer groups.
Practice in Context, a cultural studies programme, underpins your intellectual development and teaches invaluable critical skills. It will help you set your practice within a historical framework, and learn to examine other makers’ products and practices in order to constructively evaluate your own work and methods.
Additionally, you will undertake projects that will guide you towards planning and promoting your own practice as a designer maker.
You’ll have timetabled access to the National School of Blacksmithing (at Herefordshire & Ludlow College’s Rural Crafts Centre) for training at the fires and forging your designs.
At HCA you will have access to well-equipped studio spaces with individual work spaces in the Artist Blacksmith studio. Our workshops are staffed by experts in their fields. Students are able to use a wide range of materials when exploring designs, make component samples and maquettes or use other materials to combine with forge components, including:
- 3-D workshop – a fabrication laboratory housing equipment to work with small metals, welding, wood, laser cutting, 3-D printing & fabrication layout spaces
- Photography studio and media store where you can access and loan digital equipment
- IT suites with both PC & Mac
- Ceramics (Folly Lane site)
- Exhibition spaces
Additionally, HCA’s expert yet approachable learning support team provide tailored academic support as and when you need it.
Artist Blacksmithing as a craft discipline boasts an exceptional international network of practitioners offering opportunities for sharing knowledge, support and collaboration between practitioners. The Artist Blacksmithing programme introduces students to this network in a number of ways, as well as featuring programmed credit-bearing professional work experience. Our students also organise their own additional placements and get involved in rewarding events together.
Each year since 2014 we have hosted a masterclass week led by an established blacksmith. This has presented exciting opportunities for all three year groups on the course to collaborate on a product designed by a smith of international renown and create it under their guidance.
Previous projects have included:
- 2014 Jake James – sculpture
- 2015 Brian Russell – gate
- 2015 Peat Oberon – flower
- 2016 Jake James – bench
- 2017 Roberto Giordani – sculpture
- 2017 Patrick Quinn – sculpture (+ tools)
- 2018 Alfred Bullermann – firebench
Student teams from Artist Blacksmithing have assisted setting up, exhibiting and working at forge stations and exhibitions at the following events:
- BABA AGM + ‘Forged’ exhibition, Hereford (2013)
- International Peace monument + ‘Transition’ exhibition, Ypres, Belgium (2016)
- Hereford Ferrous Festival + ‘Forge’ + ‘Transition’ exhibitions (2017)
- Bath Iron Festival (2018)
The BA (Hons) students also participate in team events under the title ‘Hereford Anvils’ and frequently take part in annual or biannual events such as: the World Championships of Blacksmithing, Stia, Italy; Helfstyn, Czech Republic; Ivano Frankivsk, Ukraine; BABA AGM, UK
Each year graduates have the chance to show their work to a wide audience through exhibiting at the HCA end of year show, Synthesis, as well as at a second venue, such as New Designers – a graduate showcase exhibition at Islington Business Design Centre, London.
Many graduates develop careers as self-employed practitioners – setting up design studios and workshops, and producing work ranging from large scale architectural forged metalwork to small gallery objects and utensils. Some use their skills to work for established smiths whilst continuing to evolve their own practice. Others gain experiences by becoming journeymen, working for smiths across the world. There are also possibilities to continue studying on a postgraduate programme, including HCA’s own Contemporary Craft MA.
HCA enjoys a close working relationship with HDK Steneby, Sweden and Southern Illinois University, USA – both of which offer programmes with an emphasis on forged metal. Our association with these programmes creates opportunities for student exchange and progression. A new Metal Art Academy website has been launched that celebrates the graduates of HCA, Southern Illinois University and HDK Steneby with the intention of strengthening relations, building networks and provide a resource that can be used by galleries, curators and commissioners.
- Minimum age 18.
- Successful portfolio interview.
- Academic achievement – we would normally expect applicants to have achieved 80 UCAS Tariff Points at entry but, whilst qualifications are important, our offers are not solely based on academic results. We may make offers based on other evidence of talent and suitability for the course.
- 80 UCAS Points on the New UCAS Tariff system for 2017 equates to 200 UCAS points on the previous points system – for more details please see tariff explanation and advice on the UCAS website.
- Applicants whose first language is not English – proof of IELTS overall score of 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in all sections (reading, writing, listening & speaking) is required.
- Applications from mature students with relevant experience will also be considered.
- Recognition of Prior Learning Opportunities – the college welcomes applications from students with prior learning and/or previous experience. Further details on eligibility can be found on page 15 of our Admissions Policy.
- Alternatively, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can offer further advice on HCA and the UWTSD awarding body requirements.
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““During my time at Hereford I learned much more than how to forge metal, I learned how to be an artist. It was here I found my direction and I wouldn't trade my time there for anything.”
Gabriel ChailleSee Gabe's work3
“I came to HCA because I wanted to learn more about Artist Blacksmithing. I left with a degree that’s given me the skills and experience I need to turn my passion into a career.
“An idea is born, steel is struck, history is melted and the conversation is so hot” Roger Connah Guangzhou
on Artist Blacksmithing in We Live Both Ways: Metal Does That Too - ‘Forge’ exhibition catalogue 2017