History of Hefaiston

A brief summary of the history of the international get-together of artistic blacksmiths HEFAISTON which took place at Helfštýn in the year 2011 for now the 30th time.

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The hammers of artistic blacksmiths rang out for the first time in the recent history of Helfštýn Castle in August of the year 1982. At that time 18 masters of their craft met in order to present their art ignorant of the fact that their meeting had laid the foundations for an amazing tradition.

The idea of the management of Helfštýn Castle and the district Natural Science Museum in Přerov was to acquaint the general public with traditional crafts. The blacksmiths were supposed to be the first of a number of crafts to be shown at Helfštýn. The demonstration of their craft should have served to confirm that there were still opportunities for self-realization and free art in a period of heavy mechanization and lack of traditional technology. The atmosphere of the castle and the magic of the first gathering were so powerful that the group of friends decided to get together the following year as well. Originally the artists participating in the event only came from Czechoslovakia. The presentations of blacksmith art work were consequently moved a step further by master Alfred Habermann who was a renowned figure in the area of monumental metal sculpture art and the teaching of craftsmen in this sphere. Habermann spread information about Hefaiston not only within the country but also abroad and Helfštýn gradually became a centre for artistic blacksmith art. Blacksmiths from throughout Europe and consequently even further locales began to gradually gather at  Hefaiston.

At present, several hundred blacksmiths from throughout the world gather every year at Hefaiston. Helfštýn Castle is transformed every final August weekend into an enormous gallery in the open air. Hundreds of items are installed in all the spaces of the castle. The exhibition is competitive. The work is evaluated in various categories by a specialised jury made up of historians and art theorists, architects, and established masters of this blacksmith art. The registration of the competing art does not undergo any form of censorship with anyone eligible to participate in the exhibitions. The exhibition is thus a rich mix of styles, technologies and crafts and aesthetic qualities of the competing works. The participants are masters who work in the blacksmith art either as self-employed individuals, in large companies, enthusiastic individuals, students or specialised school teaching work with metal.

 Many years of experience have demonstrated that all of the work cannot be evaluated at the same time. A system of particular categories has thus been created wherein the exhibited works are consequently evaluated. Classic blacksmith work, smaller sculptures, jewels, Damascus work and metal cast work are evaluated separately. A special prize for work created in the Blacksmith Forum is also granted. The same categories for exhibited work with the same number of awards also exists for students. DEMONSTRATED work, which came about over the course of Hefaiston directly in front of the visitors, is also evaluated separately.


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