The University of Newcastle, Australia

Blacksmith Repair Day pushes back against consumer culture

Monday, 2 July 2018

Around 200 people from around Maitland brought their metal items in for repair at the first ever Blacksmith Repair Day held recently in Branxton.

Artist blacksmith Will Maguire organised the repair day with the support of the Centre for 21st Century Humanities. His aim was to push back against consumer culture and encourage people to repair and reuse household items.

“We had some volunteers from the Australian Blacksmiths Association there on the day and we accepted many items for repair including fire tools, farm tools, axes, shovels and candelabras plus other household items,” Will said.

“We’ve got these niche skills we can use to help fix things and we wanted to share those with the community. Plus the day alsogave an excuse for everyone to come out and get together which seems to be a rare thing these days,” Will said.

“We took donations for the repairs and gave these to Hunter Valley Slow Food who kindly provided lunch on the day.”

Will attended one of the Centre for 21st Century Humanities startup workshops in 2017 and his pitch for the repair day was selected as the winner of seed funding.

“The workshop was an excellent free event supported by Maitland City Council and I went along and pitched my idea. It’s been really great to have the Centre for 21st Century Humanities on board, the repair day wouldn’t have happened without them,” Will said.

Deputy Director of the Centre for 21st Century HumanitiesProfessor Ros Smith, said the day was a fitting event for the Centre to support as it ticked a number of cultural boxes.

“The day was culturally important because it took an ancient art which is centuries old, and put it to a new use. It brought the community together, was environmentally sustainable and was about the new use of an old technology,” Professor Smith said.

Supporting humanities startups such as the repair day is a key aspect of the Centre for 21st Century Humanities which focuses on e-research, community engagement and crossing disciplines.

“Startups are a way in which we can engage with the community but also do new disciplinary research that involves new types of humanities and creative arts projects,” Professor Smith said. “We hope to hold another startup workshop in this year on the Central Coast.”

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