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Completion   /  Andrew Garton

Forged from Fire – the making of the Blacksmiths Tree

Blacksmiths the world over respond to Black Saturday which devastated townships north-east of Melbourne in February 2009


Impact areas






  • DIRECTOR Andrew Garton

  • PRODUCER Andrew Garton



Forged from Fire - The Making of the Blacksmiths’ Tree, documents an inspiring story of recovery that grew as a response to the Black Saturday fires which devastated townships northeast of Melbourne in February 2009. The Blacksmiths’ Tree began with designer and metal artist, Amanda Gibson, who gathered a local and international team of blacksmiths and volunteers to create a nine-metre steel and copper gum tree as a memorial to those people who were touched by the fires. Forged from Fire follows the tree’s journey from inception to installation, capturing stories of resilience, connectedness and hope along the way.

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35.45% funded
  • $12,000.00

  • $4,254.00

  • 1st January 1970

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Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

The Black Saturday fires were the worst in Australia’s recorded history and profoundly affected the people of Victoria, especially those people living in small, rural communities northeast of Melbourne. Although Forged from Fire is a story of hope and renewal, it is underpinned by an event that caused immeasurable harm, loss and trauma for many affected by the fires. The film and its accompanying screening guide have been produced to provide a resource that supports and facilitates conversations and connections between viewers. In particular, the Promotion of Connectedness – Social connectedness is linked to positive outcomes for survivors of mass trauma. Supporting individuals and communities to access resources that increase or maintain social support is critical for recovery. Additionally, the film and screening guide look to Instilling Hope – Retaining a reasonable degree of optimism for the future is associated with more favourable outcomes for survivors of mass trauma.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

As The Blacksmiths’ Tree neared completion it was evident it was having an effect on the wider community, among fire affected individuals and families, that revealed a deeper story, a story where the impossible became possible. The Tree grew to be a symbol for healing that gave many people the courage to overcome their grief, allowing this unique stainless steel and copper sculpture to connect them to each other, irrespective of the differences that may have existed prior to Black Saturday.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

Short-term outcomes include encouraging participation in further screenings. In Victoria, screenings have resulted in coordinated visits to the Blacksmiths Tree, some by people who had been affected by the fires but had not yet returned to the area. Many now have.

Medium-term outcomes would include a deepening of community consciousness, of connectedness and empathy, that together we can face incredible challenges without waiting for a traumatic event to do so.

Long-term would see a deeper appreciation of arts practice as a means to not only bring communities together but to create long-term resilience and preparedness for the significant challenges we are facing, from biomass loss to climate breakdown. We are stronger together.


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

In collaboration with a team of community health practitioners and researchers at Swinburne University, we have produced a trauma-informed screening guide. This guide is designed to provide a resource that supports the sensitive screening of Forged from Fire and facilitates conversations and connections between viewers. Whether it be a school, university, community group, or other organisation, this guide will assist in planning screening events to ensure they provide a safe space for people to view the film, share their stories, connect with others, and find support. The resource utilises a framework that includes the principles of safety, calming, self and collective efficacy, connectedness, and hope. These principles are empirically supported to guide and inform effective intervention for survivors of mass trauma (e.g., natural disasters such as bushfire) and were used by the Victorian Government, Department of Health and Human Services to inform community recovery.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

We have an ongoing relationship with Lilith Korndorffer, Dr Danielle Williamson, Dr Jessica Mackelprang and Dr Carolynne White from the School of Health Sciences at Swinburne University of Technology. The screening guide has formed the basis for ongoing research into arts practice and community healing as well as trauma preparedness.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

What we are seeking is a deeper sense of connectedness, a willingness to understand each other in spite of our differences. It ought not to take a tragedy to bring a community together. Forged from Fire and the Blacksmiths' Tree reminds us all that we are far more resilient together, that we can grow and understand each other through the creative worlds our artists share and create for us. Our communities are a microcosm of our diverse and complex worlds and it is here that so much good work can be seeded that may benefit generations to come.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

That the film is screened and used as a resource where ever communities have faced significant challenges. With climate change impacting on communities the world over interest in seeing Forged from Fire would increase. This includes enquiries thus far received from California, New Zealand. Greece, Spain and Portugal.