The Blacksmiths’ Tree brings bushfire victims together

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Forged from Fire team members working on the project.

Jenni Aldred (middle) and Andrew Garton (right), with Forged from Fire’s on-location production coordinator Rachel Lowe (left).

In summary

  • Swinburne adjunct fellow and filmmaker Andrew Garton has produced a touching tribute to Black Saturday victims 
  • Communities have been invited to form a mass choir and feature in the film’s final scene

Communities affected by the Black Saturday bushfires have been invited to be part of a mass choir which will sing at the base of a 9.8 meter tall stainless steel and copper gum tree in Strathewen on October 29, 2017.

Swinburne adjunct fellow and filmmaker Andrew Garton has made the call-out to local communities to form the choir, which will be in the closing scene of his latest project titled Forged from Fire.

The film follows the team of blacksmiths who forged a three tonne tall stainless steel gum tree in memory of victims of the Black Saturday bushfires. The sculpture is now known as The Blacksmiths’ Tree.

Mr Garton believes that The Blacksmiths’ Tree is already having a profound impact on affected communities.

“As The Blacksmiths’ Tree neared completion it was evident it was having an effect on the wider community,” he says.

“The Tree grew to be a symbol for healing that gave many people the courage to overcome their grief, allowing this unique sculpture to connect them to each other, irrespective of their differences.

“This is the story we are telling in Forged from Fire.”

As the film approaches the final stages of production, Mr Garton has enlisted the help of Swinburne Film and Television students Jenni Aldred and Donal Sheil.

“I feel privileged to be involved in the production of this film, which means so much to so many people, even in its currently unfinished state,” explains Ms Aldred.

“I am honoured to be part of a team that, through this film, can help people affected by trauma to confront and overcome their grief.”

Ms Aldred became involved in the project after Mr Garton invited the Film and Television students.

“He (Garton) sent a message out to the Film and TV department where I saw it and was instantly excited. I met with Andrew and we got started from there,” she says.

Mr Garton has previously worked on a short film about The Blacksmiths’ Tree, which was well received.

“The idea was to share the short form version to audiences to gauge their response as well as seek support for the full length version,” says Mr Garton.

“At every screening audiences wept and cheered. Moreover, there would be few who would take this opportunity to share their personal trauma story.”

The Blacksmiths' Tree reminds us that we're all in this together" - Filmmaker Andrew Garton

Mr Garton is hopeful that Forged from Fire offers those affected by the Black Saturday bushfires comfort and support.

“I reckon people do long to be together, to form relationships with other people in their communities,” he says.

“The Blacksmiths' Tree reminds us that we're all in this together and I hope my film and the efforts of everyone working with me capture some of this."

The Choir will meet on Sunday October 29 at 10am, at the base of the Blacksmiths’ Tree, 160- Chads Creek Road in Strathewen, Victoria.

For more information on the film, please visit the Forged from Fire webpage.