Stepney City Farm Forge
Run by resident Artist Blacksmith Ian Lowe, the Forge at Stepney City Farm has been actively engaging with children for over three years, working with young people of all abilities, including those with special needs. Using traditional craftworking skills to enable children to grow and develop as individuals, is a core mandate of the Rural Arts Centre at Stepney and as the creator and founding member, Ian has been in a unique position to see the effects which passing such skills along has had on those fortunate enough to participate with the on-site craftspeople. Doubtless, few can have as much of an understanding of the importance of the role that fire plays in development as the blacksmith as Ian explains:
“For me, as working Blacksmith, fire is without doubt the most important tool I use and I’m constantly surprised by just how little the general public understand it. Sadly, this especially stands true when it comes to young people and children as the prevailing attitude amongst most parents is to see only the dangers of fire instead of its incredible usefulness. Without it I simply could not do the work I do, and I spend much of my time explaining to them how our current society would be a radically different place without it and how important a role it still plays in daily life”.
“When I work with children I show them how fire has given us control of our environment by allowing us to manipulate materials that would otherwise be unworkable in order to create beneficial objects. By teaching a child how to make something as simple and as taken for granted as a fork or a spoon they gain a fresh understanding and respect for this fundamental force as well as an insight into their own potential. It builds confidence, increases their ability to risk assess and allows them to tap into their creativity in a completely unique way that they would never otherwise be able to do. There are, after all, less than a thousand working Smiths left in the UK. I think its vital to reconnect people with fire in a safe, positive and exciting way and I feel fortunate that I’ve managed to do so with hundreds of children over the years. Seeing their caution and fear turn into fascination, excitement and ultimately, respect is immensely rewarding. As I say; Fire is not just good for keeping your feet warm or toasting marshmallows!”
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