Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ageless Art

A City's Tribute To Unsung Artisans

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON


Last week I was walking towards Bourke Street when I decided to walk under the portico of the Melbourne Town Hall - always a visual treat by itself.

There are two of these huge arches with their distinctive colonial-era wrought iron work on either end. Because I was walking towards the business district, one of the high archways gave me a view of the upper facade of the Town Hall, while the other (the one I've photographed here) looked skywards.

As I shot the image, I wondered about the craftsman or the team of craftsmen who created this beautifully symmetrical piece of art. Did they first sketch the pattern on paper and then modify it until it had met everyone's approval, before starting what would have been a painstaking, laborious process to recreate it in metal?

It would be difficult enough to create something this ornate on paper, let alone to try and forge each individual element in metal and then weld each segment together. It is almost heresy for someone in the twenty-first century to walk past and capture it with a single press of a camera shutter.

But it's also a way of honouring their art - and sharing it with a wider audience.

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That's My World Tuesday.

34 comments:

Shadow said...

wow, that's beautiful. i once saw a wood carving stretching the whole front of a church, about 4 people high, and it was HAND carved. that was in germany somewhere...

James said...

I'm on the other side of the world enjoying this beautiful arch thanks to the artisan and you, oh and some others in the technology field. :-)

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Erin said...

lovely iron work on this arch. reminds me of some pieces in italy.

Sylvia K said...

It is so beautiful! And as James said, thanks to so many people, we're able to enjoy the beauty here in the states! Thanks, David! Have a great week!

Artist Unplugged said...

What a beautiful photo, it looks like a lacey fan.

Daryl said...

Wrought iron fan window .. I shot one of those not long ago .. they are fascinating functional works of art

Cynthia said...

Yes, David, I completely understand your sentiment. We rarely take the time to consider all of the time and detailed decision making it requires to create a beautiful wrought iron image. It's graceful curve seems so natural when the artist is successful that we forget that he is working with stiff usually unyielding metal.

In that light, I have to say it is better to look at the real thing than the quick shot...no matter how lovely your capture is. We have a strong tradition of wrought iron craftsmen here in Puerto Rico...people decorate/protect their homes with this work. I admit that I have taken many quick shots myself as they are so appealing!

Okay, I admit it. I love your sky shot framed through the metal...it's like graceful lines on the sky...sigh...where is my loyalty? <3

Jazz said...

That's stunning.

It's amazing the trouble they went to back then. I was recently walking in downtown Montreal and lifted my eyes - for once - from street level. The old buildings with their beautiful intricate stonework have me in awe, especially when compared to today's ugly concrete bunkers.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Wow, that truly is a work of art - beautiful - as you say, imagine the craftsmanship that went into it.

Janie said...

The wrought iron reminds me of New Orleans. It's a lovely arch, and it is amazing that someone could craft such a thing out of metal.

Eddie Bluelights said...

Yes, quite beautiful wrought ironwork. I hope it isn't a lost art. I couldn't even draw it - badly even. Great photo David, showing the relief against the sky.
Eddie

B.T.Bear (esq.) said...

Looks like a fan!
Wich we cud do wiv heer at the mo.
It's been 90 degrees F in sum parts.
That's far too hot for small peeps in ferr coates.

:@}

Maggie May said...

Those wonderful pieces of work must have taken an age to put together.
They are truly beautiful.

cheshire wife said...

Your post says it all. Taking photographs of someone else's skill and hard work is the easy bit but that should not take anything away from the photographer's skill.

Carver said...

That is beautiful and such fine craftsmanship must have gone into it. Thoughtful post.

ChrisC and JonJ said...

I have always marveled at the talent that iron workers have.
Beautiful!!

SandyCarlson said...

That is a wonderful tribute to this artwork. I am with you. Great photo.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Amazingly beautiful piece and to think it is made of iron! Great picture, too, David.

Hope you're having a nice day...

XO,

Sheila :-)

ellen abbott said...

I have a friend with a metal shop and they do lots of wrought iron. And that's exactly how they do it...drawings, piecework and soldering it all together. His shop has drawings all over the walls of beautiful ornate things plus, my favorite room, the shelves and shelves of bits and pieces, samples of twisty and turny and cast items.

Guy D said...

Fantastic shot, that is beautiful.

Have a fantastic week
Guy
Regina In Pictures

Cheffie-Mom said...

Beautiful. Have you ever seen James Avery jewelry? The design of this arch is very similar. enJOY your day!

Babooshka said...

They really don't make them like that anymore. Seeing what is passing for functional living being built here at the moment to see one item with such intricate detail is a pleasure. No doubt it will still be around long after the modern here has fallen apart.

J Bar said...

Awesome ironwork.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

Luiz Ramos said...

Artistic work.

Wren said...

Amazing the work that went into this. The relative ease of our modern lives leads us (I hope) to appreciate the effort in this even more.

marcia@joyismygoal said...

I love those

Sandi McBride said...

Artists who construct such work as this, photographers who take the picture to share with the world...artists all, and we are the recipients of their wealth. Thank you David, for sharing this.
Sandi

Kathleen said...

Extraordinary, indeed! Imagine if it were translated into a tatoo. Ouch.

Gaelyn said...

What a wonderful example of a possibly dying art. It's so intricate and your shot with the sky background truly shows it off well.

Island Rambles Blog said...

I love the detail ...very creative idea to take this shot this way....each picture all around the world tells a different story.

Arija said...

David, that is cars iron as were all the old verandahs and beautiful spiral external staircases in days of yore before they tore them down and used them as ballast in empty ships on their return journey to England. Our export/import exchange with the mother country was always rather lop-sided.
In the early fifties shopfronts had veranahs to the street with cast iron posts and lace work.
Nice shot.

Mojo said...

Heresy? I think I'd stop short of that. But I suppose I can see what you mean. There is a sort of plagiarism in shooting a work of art, though truly, unless you claim credit for the original work that charge wouldn't stick. Perhaps "plagiary" is the more appropriate term.

But you've done your due diligence and credited the original creators here, so I'm sure no charges will be brought.

To address one of your questions, if this were to be created today I have no doubt that the design would have to be approved by so many committees and changed so many times that it would bear little resemblance to the artist's vision for it. Art by committee seldom works. Fortunately, things were not always so politicized.

LadyFi said...

Ornate and intricate metal work! Looks as delicate as lace.