Bex Simon, Artsmith – Manifesto

Geometalism is a word I use to encompass what my work is about.

It is a marriage of the old traditional craft of blacksmithing and modern contemporary forms of metalwork with the added essential component geometric symbols and geometric patterns found throughout the natural world. Nature has always been the source of my primary inspiration and the fundamental basis for all my work. Everything in nature from galaxies to atoms, from the rocks beneath our feet to delicate flowers and snowflakes is formed in geometric patterns.

As I see it geometry is about wholeness and togetherness.

Being creative has the power to heal the mind, helping with my mental health.

For me drawing and recreating works based upon the landscapes and natural geometric structures I see around me is a form of meditation. A sort of art therapy. When studying geometry at the Kings foundation part of my scholarship from Qest, the volume of conversation was kept very low as the process of drawing with a compass to form geometric patterns is considered a form of prayer.

And, the repetition inherent in developing geometric patterns with metal helps to develop craftmanship skills.

When the term Blacksmith is used to describe our craft, it is often associated with the old-school village blacksmith’s, shoeing horses and making, repairing agricultural metalwork.

The term Artist Blacksmith implies the same skills being used to create something artistic with a hammer and anvil.

I personally dropped the term Blacksmith some time ago and refined it to Artsmith after hearing it used for the first time by Terry Clark. It is not a new term, having been used apparently, for the blacksmiths engaged in creative blacksmithing many years ago. Jean Tijou, was a Master Artsmith in the 17th centrury. He came from France to England in 1689 and created all the wonderful metalwork in St Pauls cathedral, Chatsworth House and Hampton Court Palace as well as in many other private homes and estates.

Having been employed for 3 years to upgrade the metalwork at Hampton Court Palace by William and Mary, Tijou’s fee of £2600 was apparently never paid. An early example of the Artsmith’s work not being valued. Anyone who has visited Hampton Court and seen his magnificent gates will appreciate their beauty and the amount of work and craftsmanship involved.

Jean Tijou disappeared into obscurity before he died and not much is actually known about him personally. However, his influence continues to the present time in the design of formal ornate gates, screens and railings.

There was a revival of the art of blacksmiths in the late 1970’s-80’s with the help of the Crafts Council, which was wonderful. I remember being part of a conversation between Terry Clark and the late Alan Evans talking about the ‘electric like fizz’ everyone was feeling at the arrival of big Massey power hammers being introduced to the craft, which brought new and exciting options for sculpting large artistic structures.

Today there are amazing artist blacksmiths out there creating beautiful work but I feel, in the UK especially, it’s not really being seen other than by the blacksmithing community itself. Much of the work goes unrecognized, underappreciated and undervalued (my perspective)

This has made me think about how to increase our visibility. It is not at all easy. Having become excited by geometric forms of nature, through which I try to speak to the world about the values of unity and cohesion as exemplified in nature and represented in my works it seemed to me that I had perhaps stumbled upon the makings of a new movement. Geometalism is a uniform style of art with distinct and unique significance and meaning relevant to modern times in which disunity and structural disintegration is so rife.

Art through the years has reflected what is going on in culture and society.

The blacksmiths have done this also. Think back to the baroque style, art nouveau. Art deco for example. The art deco style was inspired by the finding and opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb and heavily influenced, therefore by ancient Egyptian art.

This got me thinking of what we have encountered in recent years.

Coronovirus, Brexit, war in Europe and the Middle East, climate change all of which are pushing people and nations apart. We are social beings and work better if we work together, look after each other, help one another.

A bad geometric pattern just won’t join together, it won’t work. And, if human beings don’t start working together and working with nature – that won’t work either.

Geometry is about togetherness.

Forging is my therapy. There is nothing better then getting the fire going and swinging a hammer over an anvil. Creating and building metalwork is my art therapy to help me deal with my mental health.

When studing back at Hereford 2017 for the DFS Advanced blacksmithing, we had to do a presentation on someone who inspires you. I chose Zaha Hadid Architect. Partly because I felt like she was the contemporary version of Gaudi., with her curved modern and futuristic looking buildings.

Having previously been inspired by Gaudi’s and Hadid’s work, I feel inspired to create something new that reflects the ever growing concerns, which I know I share with many others, about the impact upon societal cohesion of today’s increasingly destructive human behaviour, and the threat to our beautiful fragile planet.

This was the start of my journey into geometalism.

If you feel inspired and all for togetherness and would like to work in this geometalism style please feel free just Hashtag Geometalism and possibly adopt the term Artsmith.