Conrad Hicks is a self-taught master blacksmith, an artist and a conservationist. Having studied sculpting when he was young, Conrad started hammering steel to shape it, moving on to use heat and becoming more actively involved with ironmongery. A project at the Cape Town Castle restoring the ironworks further drew him in. He knew this was what he wanted to do.
As his work progressed, Conrad acquired a studio and started forging – making and shaping metal objects by heating them in a fire and hammering. Conrad’s work naturally evolved and demand saw him become more expressive, discovering the potential of the material and bringing out the sculptural qualities of what he was doing. With more awareness, his pieces began to cross at the junction where a traditional craftsman became an artist.
Conrad’s work has evolved to focus more on sculpture and one-off collectable pieces. He has exhibited with Southern Guild since 2013 when he was included in the influential Heavy Metal show at the Bronze Age Foundry in Woodstock. Since then he’s shown to international audiences at design fairs such as Design Miami, Design Days Dubai and Collective 1 in New York. He held his first solo exhibition, Implement, with the gallery in May 2019.
Expressive and highly textured, his pieces have an intimate connection with nature, even as many veer towards abstraction. All of his work, from the most functional to the most purely sculptural, he views as tools – ‘whether used to cut or communicate, the tools hold the values of our society and represent our achievements as sacred objects.’
The day will encompass discussions around the concept of how the process and evolution of toolmaking developed and the sense of beauty and sculptural form so instinctive in us all. You will make either a knife, a small sculpture or a copper bowl, using the forge and hammer under Blacksmith Conrad Hicks’ guidance and close explanation.