‘Wrought Iron’ describes a legitimate art form. Ever since man first learnt to smelt iron and forge the end product into tools and weaponry, there was artistry going on. But the Iron Age heralded such a demand for iron weapons and tools that their mass production became necessary, leaving scant time for artistic concerns.
Artistic expression is intrinsic to most humans however and even amidst the era of mass production there were artisans who would wrought iron into unique weapons; their pieces becoming highly sought after.
Many smiths were employed in forging common iron fence palings and cage bars for the confinement of criminals, too, and amongst them there were to be found frustrated artists wanting to display their talents. It was from this latter industry that decorative wrought iron screens were born.
Pretty as a picture!
Little used in Australia where we reside, decorative wrought iron work is in common use all around the Mediterranean region. While it is often put in place for security reasons, it is obvious that those who choose to incorporate it in their buildings and public spaces are also keen to have it display artistically, and for the greater part it does just that.
It serves a utilitarian purpose while beautifying spaces, doors, entrances and portals. Wrought iron, forged by the hands of true craftsmen, is in itself capable of making a significant architectural statement.
The artisan wrought iron maker will often incorporate curlicues and swirls in their design, repeating panels where they can for dramatic effect. Sometimes they will incorporate a third-dimension.
Symmetry is crucial to its success.
The classical straight line, in geometric form, can be just as impressive too.
Or a combination of styles.
The addition of crafted flora or fauna can sometimes appear a bit OTT. But it is always tastefully added and often adds to the ‘grandeur’ of the work. These inclusions are not often without symbolic significance to the properties they grace, either.
Simple, yet exquisite design.
Exquisite, yet functional (the doors to a local Fire Station).
As gates, these formidable and stately barriers remain inoffensive because of their aesthetic value, while firmly stating “Advance No Further!”
Some hint of grander times.
Some say it with quiet, even simple, elegance.
Sometimes the artistry hints of a welcoming owner.
Or perhaps a haughty (but elegant) arrogance.
Or with flair that casts a spell.
We can only hope the skill continues to be passed down to subsequent generations.