Metal and fire

A life of metal and fire

5 November 2018


Mark Power is considered a relative newcomer to Salamanca Market, but at Stall 178, just past the information booth, he showcases one of the oldest crafts known to man. Give this man fire, iron, an anvil and hammer, and he can create something of exquisite beauty. Custom Iron.

“Iron is fundamental. People have all manner of connection to this common element. Iron ore itself is quite useless, but when you mix fire and carbon with it, it transforms. Like magic.”

And he’ll happily tell you that he’s wanted to be at the market ever since he came to Tasmania.

“It’s the heart and soul of Hobart. People are blown away by it.  It’s a lovely buzz from week to week. I’m a born chatterbox, so it’s a perfect place for meeting people, travellers, tourists as well as locals and the market family themselves.”

Mark’s dad had a friend who was a blacksmith in Victoria, but it wasn’t until he was working in theatre arts/education in the Northern Territory, improvising with rubbish tip cast offs and turning them into percussion instruments, that the bug really bit.  He just loves metal. “It’s got unique characteristics with malleability, character and strength, and people fall in love with the stuff I make and ask me to make things they can’t find anywhere else.”

“You have to innovate and design all manner of tools to facilitate work. It’s dirty, and you have to love burns! But yeah, it’s a lovely freedom. Creativity-wise, it really suits me. A lot can be read into a bit of handmade ironwork. It’s very much a relationship between blacksmith and customer, and wrought iron. With metal in general, particularly iron, the authenticity of the marks, the wear marks or scratch marks of how things are made, mean a lot can be read into hand made iron work.”

Mark agrees that smithies are unique in what they do and the versatility means that it’s a lovely medium that marries beautifully with other natural products, timber and masonry especially. And if you desire a contemporary or historical style, no problem. Lately, exploring the vast realms of sculpture from garden art to beautiful pieces for the office, business or home has been a passion.

Is he always busy? “I’ve certainly had frantic Fridays where I’ve had hugely busy days because I’ve suddenly realised I needed more stock. My sales are pretty much 50/50 between stock and special orders, and I mail stuff people don’t want to carry. I get commercial work too, and recently did some lovely shop fittings at Smitten Merino, but every Saturday is a surprise. I haven’t missed one yet. You never know who’s going to come along!”

Stall site number: 178


The Salamanca Market produces a regular newsletter featuring stories from the market. To read more stories like this one and find out more about what is happening at the market, sign up to our regular newsletter.