Under the Arch of Friendship

На кузнечном фестивале в Ульяновске

Unity keeper

The Arch Alley is in the very heart of Donetsk now and each visitor of Forged Figures Park can enjoy and admire it. But can you imagine what titanic joint efforts this Alley is the result of?! What human relations are behind it?

The Arch Alley is an illustration and reminding of the fact that we live in a great country, united with the team spirit of strong, honest and cheerful people – blacksmiths.

It is also necessary to feel a wonderful atmosphere of the blacksmiths festival where it is absolutely unimportant what language you speak either Russian or Ukrainian or English; you’ve got used to think and speak! But if you touch a forged arch or bench with your hand it is quiet easy to feel that even if it is a severe frost outside they radiate warmness. It seems you touch some peculiar secret which generations of blacksmiths of the Earth and blacksmiths of Ukraine in particular have been proudly keeping through centuries… It is a secret of Unity…

So different they are…

The idea to create the Arch Alley in the Forged Figures Park came to festival organizers Victor Burduk, Igor Rudenko and Aleksandr Legonkiy. But its implementation would have been impossible without support of one outstanding person Aleksandr Lukianchenko, the Donetsk city mayor. Не respects blacksmiths very much and often is as delighted as a child watching from the window of his office the wedding processions to the Forged Figures Park on Saturdays. It was his idea that two Arch Alleys should lead to the Sweethearts Pavilion. It was grand and beautiful. Financed by the City Council this project became the main subject of the 9th international Forged Figures Park – 2007 Festival of blacksmiths art.

According to the project ten author’s forged five-meter-wide arches and 16 author’s benches were to be made. At first it seemed to be too much work for us. But this apprehension was dispelled after we had presented our idea at the festival in Ivano-Frankovsk. There were so many people ready to help that far not everyone got the work to do. We believed in fate and invited to participate in the project those who were the first to respond…

The Rosich Smithy enterprise (Rakitnoe urban village, Kiev region), leaded by Yuriy Vyrodov was the very first to respond. It made its arch and delivered it to Donetsk at the end of August for the city day. This not numerous, but very mobile and solidary team of former sportsmen-champions reminds me of a military unit of special blacksmith assignment. Their very roomy smithy is situated at the pine forest edge. It is the most wonderful and beautiful place. When the arch was installed there was an all-night celebration with bonfires and guitars in Rakitnoe. And all this powerful energy is inside their live and very poetic arch.

The second arch delivered to Donetsk was an arch with dragon from Chernovtsy. When I and the director of The Kryshtaleva Kupelya enterprise Mikhail Pelepko were standing near the table, where the new-forged dragon spread menacingly its wigs, in his spacious and modern smithy-hangar, I remembered Mikhail exclaiming with a deep feeling, ‘Look! It’s as kind as a fairy-tale dragon! Let it protect against trouble everyone who will ask for it’. The arch is really magic and very noticeable as all the forged works by the incredible blacksmiths and designers of the Kryshtaleva Kupelya.

The arch by masters from Simpheropol headed by Igor Romashenko was to be delivered to Donetsk as a solid five-meter-high work. There was a forged vine with snails on it…Vine leaves seemed to be just moved by the wind blow. And it’s hard to believe that this arch is made by so-called ‘problem teenagers’ under the guidance of Igor Romashenko who has gathered them in his smithy. Could you imagine how shocked I was, when, having come to the CAT transport company to take this magnificent blacksmith artwork, I saw a barbarously straightened and deformed arch. You see, it was more convenient to cram it into the van in this way! We had to cut the arch with an angle grinder and restore it. We should note that it was masterly made by Donetsk blacksmiths under the guidance of Yevgeniy Yermak. He just glanced at the dolefully lying on the asphalt arch and said in a very calm voice, ‘Never mind. Everything made by blacksmiths can be repaired and reforged…’ And when the arch was restored and placed in the park its Crimean authors could detect neither places of cutting and joining nor which of its parts had been straightened and newly bent.

As the host of the festival the Ukrainian Gefest blacksmiths enterprise was represented with two arches on love subject. The first is The Butterflies Nest. Meticulous accountants have stated that there are 517 butterflies on the arch. The other is The Love Bridge with silhouettes of sweethearts. Works by Gefest took places of honour at their pedestals, got a lot of audience admiration prizes and won the mass media recognition.

Now that we are talking about awards, it was very difficult for the contest committee to define the best arch. The candidates had been discussed till the late in the evening. The arch by Sergey Tyasko from Uzhgorod is graceful, full of symbolism and though impressive. Sergey is a forged works designer of standing reputation in Transcarpathian region. It is his specialization. And the fact, that he forged the enormous parts of the arch with his own hand, suggests his serious and respectful attitude to his friends from the east of Ukraine. Two parts of the huge arch by the master from Uzhgorod are made with the application of ancient blacksmiths methods and symbolize the interpenetration, connection and integrity of a man and a woman.

The arch by Ivano-Frankovsk Arma is also made with the application of classic methods and in a laconic style. That’s why it was placed at the first honourable place. The designer concept of Sergey Polubotko, the Arma manager, the chairman of the Union of masters of blacksmiths art in Ukraine and the Honoured artist of Ukraine, was greatly successful. The sun of love on the arch from Ivano-Frankovsk is a real pleasure to the eye. It’s a result of stainless blacksmith work!

The arch in a modern style by Dnepropetrovsk Ptakh workshop masters is very graceful. Designer Julia Deyneka and her husband, blacksmith-artist Vladimir Deyneka presented a set of the arch and a bench in a common harmonious style. Their creative team always produces extraordinary works. Presented by them for the Fairy Tales Alley in 2006 The Roly-Poly work has caught fancy of many people. Their arch is also very elegant and radiant. Its fragments of broken blue glass are shining in the sun, underlining peculiarities of design and the skill of forging.

The summing up continued late in the evening and at that time a snow-white arch by the Aleksandriya (Kirovograd Region) Svarozhychy blacksmiths enterprise, headed by Igor Shapovalov, began to sparkle in the dusk with new tints and shapes. It was beautiful even in the daytime, but at night it emitted a magical shining of mysterious grace. It was the arch which became a winner. When Igor Shapovalov got A TV-set as the First Prize from our sponsor, the Byttechnika distribution network, he said frankly, ‘It is just a good luck. I was as happy as now only when I was awarded with a ‘golden’ medal at school. It gives a lot of inspiration for new creative works’. The Svarozhychy enterprise is newly-found but its blacksmiths and designers are skilled and present a serious and creative team. Its works always draw attention at the blacksmith exhibitions by the wonderful grace of shape run through with a special philosophy of harmony.

Unfortunately, the arch by Sergey Kaspruk was late to take its place in the alley for the days of the festival. It is an airy work with a scarlet sail. The individual master had problems with his health. This arch was finished by Sergey after the festival with the help of masters from the Crimea. Therefore, his bench in a specially created for the purpose ‘tomtom style’ is worth the highest praise.

The second TV set was presented to the author of the best bench. There were 16 benches, 16 incredible forged works. When all of them had been placed between the arches the guests and festival participants just didn’t know where to look first And although the jury took the unanimous decision and gave the award to Svyatoslav and Dmitriy Vovchuk from Kharkov, I with Victor Burduk considered the work by masters from Makeevka (Donetsk region) Vladimir Soldatov and Mikhail Vasiliev to be the most interesting. But one can’t dispute with the jury. It isn’t ruled that if there had been another jury, the work by Sergey Kaspruk from Donetsk, or by Igor Pukhir from Berdiansk, or the bench by Ulianovsk (Russia) Korch enterprise, or one of the swan benches by masters Vladimir Grinchyshyn or Vitaliy Komonko would have been awarded.

Creative contest is always subjective. And everybody understands it. Believe me, nobody of the Arch Alley project participants had been left without attention. Thank you very much, friends! The festival organizations as well as everyday visitors of the Forged Figures Park are deeply appreciative to you for your beautiful works. You are blacksmiths of natural gift! You are extraordinary people! And how different you are! We are always glad to work, have a rest and a good time with you, go forward and make new creative achievements!

Friends meet at the festival

And it is the real truth. People say friends in need are friends indeed. For us friends indeed are friends responding to the call for joint creative work. And we have a lot of them.

Much more than 300 people wanted to visit the capital of Donetsk region at the last weekend but one in September 2007. More than 250 people took part in the projects of the year 2007 (work at the Arch Alley and at The Artistic Ironwork of Ukraine book). We would be glad to welcome at our festival everybody who would like to join us but for some reason hasn’t done it yet.

150 blacksmiths from Ukraine, Russia, the USA, Czech Republic, Georgia, Holland, Germany and Spain came to Donetsk in 2007 to participate in the bright blacksmiths show, which is the 9th international Forged Figures Park blacksmiths art festival. The festival was organized by The Magazine of Metal and the Donbass blacksmiths Guild under the aegis of Donetsk City Council. Our general sponsor is the Alchevsk Iron and Steel Works public company. Other festival sponsors are the Byttechnika distribution network, the Donsplav company and the Kremen insurance company. The general promoter is the Ukraina broadcasting company, other promoters are The Classnoe Radio and the 1st municipal TV channel.

26 August to 23 September 2007 on the threshold of the festival the Ornamental’ne Koval’stvo (Ornamental Smithery) exhibition, that had been first presented in May in Ivano-Frankovsk and in Kiev, was displayed in the regional local history museum.

There were about 70 works of famous masters from Ukraine, Byelorussia and Lithuania presented in the Donetsk display. Thanks to professinals of the local history museum, each work was skilfully placed and illuminated in the twenty-meter-long exhibition hall. And due to the active promotion of the 1st municipal TV channel and the Ukraina broadcasting company, the exhibition was visited by thousands of Donetsk students, schoolchildren and lovers of the beautiful.

Blacksmiths art theoretical and practical conference, that, actually, was he beginning of the Donetsk festival, took place in the conference hall of the local history museum on September 21 (Friday). Having visited the blacksmiths art exhibition, the conference participants noted the high professionalism of its organization.

On Saturday morning forging furnaces started buzzing and cheerful ringing of anvils notified the beginning of work at the Arch of Friendship. For two days interesting and original works by the festival participants had been welded to this eleventh arch.

Master Classes of the blacksmiths art school leader Bogdan Popov (Kiev) and miniature master Viktor Mihalev (Donetsk) and the show of Leonid Krasitskiy (Kramatorsk), skillfully shoeing the horse, drew so much attention that it was difficult to come closer and take some interesting photos. The favourite of the public Sergey Firsov was as usual joyous and full of pep. Talking all the time and making a lot of witty remarks, he shoed horseshoes and presented them to the admiring viewers. Future blacksmiths were taking lessons from the real professional blacksmith Aleksandr Navrotskiy (Moscow) with great pleasure and reverence.

Traditional for the Forged Figures Park power show of the powerful man Dmitriy Khaladzhi, the blacksmiths all-round events championship and the concert of Enver Izmailov were also very bright and memorable. Enver was presented with a unique forged guitar. ‘Its sounding is peculiar,’ exclaimed the surprised with the present guitarist.’It is a unique musical instrument!’

The Blacksmiths Kitchen cooking show was a special appeal of the festival. Blacksmiths cooked such dishes as Odessa pilau, Cossack’s ‘kulesh’, Chernovtsy fish soup and Donetsk goulash straight on the forging furnaces. The dishes were not only tasty but amazing! The spirit of the festival and blacksmiths friendship could be felt in them.

But the Donetsk festival is marked out not only by unique projects and presents. As the participants of the festival told me, Donetsk is attracting with its unordinary hospitality, organizers’ cordiality and some special charm. They say, in 2007 we succeeded to combine the grandeur of Ivano-Frankovsk and the warmth of Sudak and still were original. Thanks for good references!

In our turn we promise not to stop at what we have achieved. Next time we will hold the 10th anniversary festival. And about 40 people and organizations only from Europe have expressed the intention to participate. It is small wonder as Donetsk is the first Ukrainian city to enter the European Golden Ring association of cities organizing blacksmiths festivals. It will be the subject of the 10th festival at the last but one weekend of September, 2008. We are waiting for your applications for participation and for your works that will get places of honour in the Forged Figures Park and will be admired by grateful people of Donetsk!

With love,
Chairman of the festval organizing committee
Igor Rudenko

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