Keynote Speaker: Heiner Zimmermann

Passing on the Flame: what historic ironwork taught me as a contemporary blacksmith’

World renowned metal designer and artist Heiner Zimmermann is passionate about bringing hot metal work into contemporary art, architecture and culture. A professor of Metal Art at Gothenburg University, he demonstrates, teaches and lectures all over the world, and has written widely on the subject, as well as making and exhibiting his own work and running a business https://www.atelierzimmermann.com/en

Heiner will speak about his personal journey as a blacksmith and artist, exploring how historic ironwork has informed his creative practice, and asking what conservation work has to teach the contemporary smith. Read more …

“Tradition is not to preserve the ashes but to pass on the flame.” Gustav Mahler


Speaker: Bethan Griffiths

Fitting the new to the old: designing new ironwork for heritage settings’

Bethan Griffiths, director of The Ironwork Studio, is a specialist designer and consultant in decorative architectural ironwork. Her passion for metalwork, especially blacksmithing, developed while studying for her BA in Three-Dimensional Design, has led to her being involved in a wide range of prominent projects. Bethan’s portfolio ranges from elegant new designs to heritage conservation, uniting her design training with a thorough understanding of metalwork gained through workshop experience.

New designs in heritage settings will always stimulate debate. Whether the design is discreetly traditional or boldly contemporary, there will always be vehement advocates for and against the outcome.

So, while it is commonly accepted that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, how might you go about creating and justifying a proposal for new work within an old setting?

How do you determine if lost elements need to be restored or if a new original design would provide an enhancement?

We frequently hear that new work needs to be ‘sympathetic’ or ‘respectful’ or that it needs to ‘respond to its setting’, but how do you translate these objectives into a design response?

Bethan will explore different design approaches through the use of case studies to help gain an understanding of how to create a confident response derived from context which not only respects but enhances historic surroundings. Her talk will look at how as designers we can:

  • Investigate the story inherent in a historic setting
  • Develop a design response which tells that story
  • Justify our reasoning and design decisions
  • Challenge the presumption of ‘in-keeping’


Speaker: Alicia Robinson

‘Challenges & Innovation in Ironwork Conservation’

Alicia Robinson is Senior Curator in Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics & Glass at the V&A. She joined the Museum in 1985 and has worked in several capacities including as Director of Apsley House.  She has published and lectured widely; on Catherine the Great & Neoclassicism in St Petersburg, Dining in 19th century, Rodin sculpture, and Ironwork in Britain. Alicia is part of the Concept Team working with colleagues on new 19th century galleries planned for the spectacular V&A South Court.