Amanda’s professional background includes: 2009-> Project Manager; The BlackSmith’s Tree Project Amanda has managed this project voluntarily (with small grants and community support) since 2009. The amazing outcome of this project has been the installation of hand forged 9m tall steel, copper and silver gum tree in Strathewen as a memorial of the events on Black Saturday (173 people burnt to death and widespread destruction of farmland, bushland and wildlife). The tree has 31 branches of 100-200 leaves on each, each leaf has been hand forged and many have names and words on them. But the project has been so much more than this. It has involved blacksmiths worldwide, built skills in the local community, and created healing and community involvement. Thousands of people worldwide have been involved in artistic, technical and support aspects of this project. One 92 year old blacksmith, who has since died, began blacksmithing at the age of 16 and was employed by a company which created many well known gates and fences around Melbourne. Hundreds of leaves came from a blacksmiths’ festival in the Ukraine, 75 arrived from Toulouse and one even came from a 9 year old in California. Leaves and roses have been exchanged with blacksmiths in Norway who are creating hand-forged roses to commemorate the 2011 massacre of 77 young people attending a Labour Party political conference. In total about 4,000 blacksmiths and 40 welders were involved. The two ton trunk is a marvel in co-operation and execution. The 6.5m length of forged tapering has never been done before anywhere in the world. It took two days and one night to complete at an industrial blacksmith operation in Albury which had never worked on a sculpture before. Evening classes were held in TIG welding and involved women who became avid converts. Our other guest, Cliff Overton, introduced Amanda and has devoted huge amounts of time to the project for the past five years. He was working for the CFA during the Black Saturday fires and was deeply affected by what he saw going into towns and houses immediately after the fire. This project has been vital to his recovery from the post-traumatic stress he suffered. Cliff’ currently works as Manager of Corporate Planning and Sustainability at the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. Amanda Gibson must be recognised for the huge ranges of skills (documented in our last newsletter) she was employed to make the project a success of ‘humanity in action’. She is a beautiful presenter and communicator. She has coordinated a project which has enabled immeasurable healing. Still to be completed as part of this project are beautiful landscaping around the tree and a book documenting this powerful project. Every leaf has been photographed and documented. If you would like to learn more about The Blacksmiths Tree Project http://www.treeproject.abavic.org.au At the base of the tree are these words written in stone I have risen from the flames I have stretched across the earth I am shining with your name.
Reporter – Ros Smith, 4th June 2014