“Equality is not going to forge itself”

Sean Car

A new photo exhibition featuring at Library at the Dock in October will display powerful snapshots of the women of the Australian Blacksmiths Association Victoria (ABAVic).

Opening at the library on October 12 and running until November 3, Iron Women is a free exhibition presented by photographer Anna Madden documenting the stories of women with a passion for blacksmithing.

In posing the question, “what better way is there to cut through a stereotype than with an angle grinder?”, this exhibition dispels the myth of the muscular male with a hammer as a dated concept as women make the trade their own.

Having attended the ABAVic Women’s Group workshops over the course of a 12-month period, Ms Madden said the group, run by women, for women, operated under mantra “equality is not going to forge itself”.

Describing herself as an “emerging artist”, Ms Madden is currently completing a Bachelor of Photography at the Photography Studies College (PSC) and has previously worked as a photographer for Beat Magazine, where she concentrated on women in live music.

“I always like to have a little bit of a feminist aspect to the work I do,” she told Docklands News.

But after being introduced to the world of blacksmithing by a long-time friend, who is also a member of the ABAVic Women’s Group, Ms Madden hopes her 12-month body of work for Iron Women will help to inspire women and spark important conversations.

“The feedback I’ve got when I tell people what I’m doing, personally they’re surprised that blacksmiths still exist – then they’re surprised that there is a whole group of female blacksmiths that meet up regularly,” she said.

“As each member works on their individual projects, the more experienced ‘smithies’ offer guidance and tips on techniques, and create a comfortable, safe and welcoming space. They share their successes and mistakes alike, fostering stronger bonds and a culture of learning.”


With the world of blacksmithing often associated with one now bygone, she said all the photos had a “certain timeless element to them”.


“They could almost have been taken 100 years ago, except for the odd appearance of mobile phones!” she said.

Iron Women, supported by the City of Melbourne, will run at Library at the Dock from October 12 to November 3. An official launch will be held on Thursday, October 13 from 6pm to 7.30pm. •

For more information: melbournelibraryservice.com.au


Caption: Anna Madden.

Photo by Murray Enders.

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