Baille Ghobainn (2010)

Govan : Baille Ghobainn

anvil    æn  vɪl/ [an-vil]


a heavy iron block with a smooth face, frequently of steel, on which metals, usually heated until soft, are hammered into desired shapes.


This work, is an example of  some of my earlier sculptural work.

In some ways the project was never fully completed or concluded. These images show what I think of as a series of experiments with this sculpture in different places, testing and exploring its meaning…

This anvil, I constructed by hand, in wood.

The idea to make an anvil stuck following a 3 month period of working with an 80 year old blacksmith, crafting a gateway for Bellahouston Park (Desire lines, Public Art project 2010/11.)  In the GalGael Trust, in Govan, Glasgow.

Govan has a rich ancient heritage, predating the existence of Glasgow. Today it is most known for its ship  building industry, which rapidly expanded Govan’s population as people flooded here to work in the thriving ship yards.

Today the tide has gone out on the shipbuilding industry, leaving Govan with one of the highest unemployment rates in the U.K.

The GalGael trust offers the opportunity to these people to be re-united with their lost practical creative skills, through the preservation and opportunity to learn traditional crafts and expertise.

Through this sculptural work I attempted to explore and synthesise some of the things I experienced and learnt working with in this context…

Considering the tradition of ship building,

Models, tools and structures,

Worked out in wooden constructions which are later forged, cast and fabricated in metal

(Click on image to enlarge)

The Anvil as an object;

Personally: The physical object around which the blacksmith and I worked. The centrepiece from which our understanding of each other and our contrasting generational backgrounds was formed, as we exchanged skills,  and stories over the anvil.

Locally to Govan: Perhaps the most fundamental tool required for ship building. With the help of the anvil any other tool can be made.

Culturally: In cultural iconology the anvil is seen as a symbol for all traditional crafts, having primitive origins that date back to the beginning of the time of man.


Exhibition; Big Show 2, Barnes Building, Glasgow School of Art, March 2011


The relationship between real and the pretend.

How rich and significant histories of industry and place can be re-presented and remembered.

Changes that time brings; Our 21st century disconnection between physically tools of trades, objects of labour, craft and making. These original and handmade blacksmith tools are completely unfamiliar, yet their strong metal forms are intrinsic to uses we no longer understand, instead their shape reminds us more of primitive, home-made weapons.

(Click on image to enlarge)

Audio Piece (Situated next to installation.)

The blacksmith song

Recorded from the performance of; The heart of Govan

Burns night 2011, Govan old parish church

Presented by Fablevision and CRAN Theatre in association with Hear Glasgow and Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Warriors, singers and actors from Govan community, local schools and The GalGael.

Iron heart

Made and presented to me by Ian Wade, 80 year old Blacksmith, after working together for three months at the forge in The GalGael, Govan.

Outside experiments, taking the Anvil to Govan



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