The #150mmchallenge is a celebration of process, material, creativity and ingenuity in forged metal that began with a student project in the UK. The exhibition displays a curated collection of 150 metal objects, selected from over 400 pieces created by amateur and professional blacksmiths from around the world.
The #150mmchallenge has its origins in the charming, historic cathedral city of Hereford, UK. With around 55,000 inhabitants, it is surrounded by the green rolling hills and hedgerows of traditional English agricultural land and the distant Welsh Mountains. It’s a fitting setting for the blacksmithing capital of the UK and is home to the country’s only Artist Blacksmithing degree course at Hereford College of Arts, where the #150mmchallenge was first conceived.
Tutor, Ambrose Burne gave his students a ‘warm-up’ challenge to create something interesting out of a small rectangular piece of steel, 150mm x 20mm x 20mm (5.9 x 0.79 x 0.79 inches). 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 the course Instagram account, @herefordanvils, using the hashtag #150mmchallenge.
The challenge ‘went viral’ – catching the interest of blacksmiths from around the world, resulting in an exhibition that toured Europe to much acclaim. The artworks vary from playful figurative models to functional tools and abstract sculptures, demonstrating a diverse, creative and technical exploration of form and concept made in response to the challenge.
The #150mmchallenge continues to connect an international community of blacksmiths; revealing a rich diversity of practice and highlighting the value of social media in developing discourse across a dispersed making community.
The #150mm Challenge was curated and produced by Delyth Done, with project concept by Ambrose Burne, Hereford College of Arts, UK. Toured in the USA by ABANA – Artist-Blacksmith’s Association of North America.
Jan 8 – Mar 12, 2021: Appalachian Center for Craft – Smithville, Tennessee.
Mar 27 – Jul 3, 2021: Metal Museum – Memphis, Tennessee.
Aug 1 – Oct 16, 2021: Heritage Discovery Center – Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Sponsored by the Johnstown Area Heritage Association.
Nov 1, 2021 – Jan 31, 2022: South Dakota School of Mines, APEX Gallery – Rapid City, South Dakota.
Feb – Apr 2022: American College of Building Arts – Charleston, South Carolina.