Peter Parkinson
Peter Parkinson

I teach blacksmithing to students initially on the basis of technique. There are only some six or seven fundamental processes which I demonstrate and encourage students to undertake and explore. These form a skills base which, like the eight notes of a musical scale, enables students to develop and achieve ideas of their own. From the outset, I stress the design implications and possibilities which derive from each technique.

I don't want students to learn to do what I do, so much as find out what they can do. The craft lends itself to spontaneity, which I encourage. This leads directly into the idea of working creatively. I do feel it is important that the activity is seen as enjoyable. It can be hard physical work, but also fun.

What will students gain if they come on one of your courses?

Initially they will enjoy doing all the things their Mothers told them not to - playing with fire. They will gain an experience of hot forging metal, offering an opportunity for making a piece or pieces of work of their own design. They will appreciate and understand far more about contemporary and historic forged metalwork they may see, and in another sense they will see much more in it. They will appreciate the transformation of an apparently unattractive and intractable material, into objects of quality and character. They will also have fun.

Are there any particular techniques/processes you use in your teaching?

Yes - I employ all sorts of particular techniques; show students and discuss a variety of processes. Perhaps the fundamental teaching technique is to treat students immediately as creative people, encourage them to appreciate that they do have some good ideas, and to guide them into fulfilling them.

What inspires your own work?

Hard work mostly. I am never sure about the idea of "inspiration". I think the reason that artists and craftspeople refer to what they do as 'work', is simply because it is. Like most hard work you develop techniques and strategies, to do it. I - in common I suspect with many others - will look for sources of ideas applicable to the project in hand. These might be any number of things from plants forms, to architecture, investigating a making process, thinking around the function of the object or in the case of site specific work, investigating the history of the place. In my experience, sources are endless.

Where can students see examples of your work?

Much of my smaller work is in private hands, in Britain, France and the USA. But some can usually be seen in the Fire & Iron Gallery in Leatherhead, Surrey, or the New Ashgate Gallery in Farnham, Surrey. Larger site-specific public art and architectural metalwork can be seen in various town and city locations, including in no particular order : - Pictorial panels, Leatherhead, town centre; Internal window grilles, the City Museum and Art Gallery, Portsmouth; Perimeter railings, National Youth Theatre, Holloway Road, London; Triumphal arch, London Street, Basingstoke; Equatorial sundial, BBC South building, Havelock Road, Southampton; Cantilever arch, Linthorpe Road, Middlesbrough; 'The History Tree', The Minories, Hemel Hempstead; 'Market Column", Cheapside, Leicester; "Archway", Ivegate, Bradford; "The Martlets", Queen's Square, Crawley; Three 'Tree sculptures" Whitecross Road and Greenbank Industrial estate, Blackburn; 'Dorking Cockerel", A24/A25 roundabout, Dorking; Treasury gates, memorial stands in Chidren's Chapel and 2 metre Pascal candleholder, Guildford Cathedral; "Archway", Cornmarket, Derby 'Sedges' sculpture, Holt Lane, Hook, Hampshire; Internal security grille, The Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock. Street furniture, Fleetwood, Lancashire

Where did you gain your training/experience?

I studied Industrial design at the Royal College of Art - DesRCA. Worked as a designer with Morphy Richards, London Transport and Allied Ironfounders. Subsequently taught at West Surrey College of Art & Design until 1992. Learnt craft skills and gained work experience at Richard Quinnell's forge in Leatherhead. Became self-employed artist blacksmith. Awarded Licentiateship and later became a Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths. LWCB, FWCB

What teaching experience have you had?

I1968 - 74 Guildford School of Art, part time, then full time Lecturer. 1974 - 1992 West Surrey College of Art & Design, full time Senior Lecturer 1992 - 1994 Hereford College of Art, part time Lecturer 1993 Penland School of Crafts , N Carolina, USA - taught 14 day blacksmithing short course. 1995 Penland School of Crafts , N Carolina, USA - taught 14 day blacksmithing short course. 1999 Blacksmithing design lectures at the Academy of Fine Art, Anderlecht, Belgium 2000 Began teaching blacksmithing short courses at the Richard Quinnell School of Blacksmithing, Rowhurst Forge, Leatherhead 2001 Blacksmithing lectures at National School of Blacksmithing, Hereford 2004 Blacksmithing design lecture tour, USA. Phoenix, Arizona; Boulder Colorado; Sacramento, California. 2005 - 2008 appointed External Examiner by the University of Wales for the new BA(Hons) Artist Blacksmithing course, Hereford College of Art & Design

Have you written any books/had any articles published?

1990 - to date. Frequent articles in Artist Blacksmith magazine, published by BABA 1993 Working with an Artist Blacksmith, information booklet for architects, published by BABA in Britain. Formatted for the internet on the ‘Art Metal’ site by Enrique Vega in USA, 1995. Translated into French and published in France by Eden Fowler 1997. 1995 From Strength to Strength, contemporary blacksmithing article Crafts Magazine 2001 The Artist Blacksmith, book published by Crowood Press 2003 Techniques and Ideas, essay published by Northern Rockies Blacksmithing Association magazine, 2005 Forged Architectural Metalwork, book published by Crowood Press 2007 Artist Blacksmithing, wrote and was filmed for DVDs produced by Crowood Press

Do you belong to any groups/societites?

Professional member of BABA - the British Artist Blacksmiths Association - since 1980 LWCB - licentiate of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, 1989 FWCB - fellow of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, 2006