The #150mmchallenge is a celebration of process, material and ingenuity in forged metal. It all began when British tutor Ambrose Burne gave his students at Hereford College of Arts, UK, a ‘warm-up’ challenge to create something interesting out of a small rectangular piece of steel, 150mm x 20mm x 20mm. They each had three weeks to make something out of the piece, without adding anything else, and they posted photos of their completed work onto Instagram, using the hashtag #150mmchallenge.
The challenge attracted attention online and it quickly ‘went viral’ – catching the interest of blacksmiths around the world. It was so successful that blacksmiths mailed their objects to Hereford in England to be exhibited there in 2019, in a show featuring 240 metal objects from 19 countries, all inspired by the original #150mmchallenge and curated and produced by HCA’s Artist Blacksmithing Course Leader Delyth Done.
Curator Delyth Done says, “After our original UK Ferrous blacksmithing festival, we continued to encourage new #150mmchallenge work in a second callout and I’ve been able to select the 150 US exhibition pieces from over 400 submissions.”
ABOUT THE BOOK
“Any blacksmith that is handed a pristine hardback with a white cover and a crisp image of a single familiar bar of steel stock will check their hands for traces of forge grime before accepting and opening the proffered book.
And so begins an immersive journey of inspirational shapes and forms created by amateur and professional smiths working hot from the fire all starting out with the same stock of mild steel, 20mm square x 150mm long. This is a book for the soul that you will return to just for the joy of the imaginative mind and skillful craftsmanship of the artist blacksmith.
The response (to the #150mmchallenge) was phenomenal. Inspired smiths from around the world picked up that small piece of 20mm square bar 150mm long and began moving the volume of material with heat to express themselves creatively and joyfully with humour and skill creating an imaginative range of work.
The book contains 330 beautifully photographed full colour images, shot against a white background. This elevates each piece to individual artworks as with each turn of the page you are presented with a double page layout of images”. – Shona Johnson
Hardcover, 128 pages, 338 color photos, 8-1/2-in x 11-in.
COMMENTS ON THE #150mmchallenge EXHIBITION
“By bringing this to venues across the United States, ABANA is providing opportunities for the public to see first-hand the #150mmchallenge’s myriad of forms coaxed from a uniform piece of steel. This exhibit speaks to the endless creativity and skill of modern-day artisans who use traditional blacksmithing techniques to manipulate steel to magnificent effect.” – Leigh Morrell, President of ABANA, USA.
“The #150mmchallenge truly highlights how blacksmiths can take the same material and produce an infinite number of possibilities.” – Carissa Hussong Executive Director, Metal Museum, Tennessee
“Blacksmithing is a global community and the 150mm challenge is an inspired and inspiring way of bringing us all together, creating weird and wonderful work for all of us to enjoy and admire. As a professional smith, making my living from commissioned work, the #150mmchallenge provided a rare opportunity to indulge myself with both the design and craftsmanship of a piece made purely for the joy of creating.” – Pete Hill , Blacksmith, Scotland
“The #150mmchallenge has proved to be one of the most interesting exhibitions of forging in recent memory. To have grown from an exercise handed out to students of Hereford College of Arts into a showpiece for creative workmanship in hot steel from around the globe. For me it perfectly encapsulates the freedom with which we blacksmiths are able to articulate ourselves in this most fascinating medium. From the clinically precise to the psychedelically whimsical, limited only by the constraints of our own imaginations.” – Jake James, Blacksmith, Canada
“One of the best exhibitions of contemporary ironwork we have seen in over 45 years of attending and curating such exhibitions internationally – especially in its appeal to the lay public through its variety, ingenuity, and unusually didactic quality: the repetitive transformation of a simple standard bar of this humble metal – iron – into a wild miscellany of imaginative, complex and beautiful – even startling – forms, with infinite possibilities.” – Master Craftsman Richard Quinnell MBE MA CWCB and Pauline Quinnell, founders of the Quinnell School of Blacksmithing