Ron Fitzpatrick forges metal into art

An eye for it: Ron Fitzpatrick with one of his forged sculptures at Talisman Gallery, Hartley. Photo by David Hill, Deep Hill Media
An eye for it: Ron Fitzpatrick with one of his forged sculptures at Talisman Gallery, Hartley. Photo by David Hill, Deep Hill Media

In an old woolshed behind the stoic clutch of colonial-era sandstone buildings of Hartley historic village, Ron Fitzpatrick fashions his metal art on the forge.

Tucked into the side of a hill under the hulking gaze of a granite tor, his Talisman Gallery is located in the undulating pasturelands of the central west at the western foothills of the towering Mountains escarpment.

Inside, the essence of legends fuse with hints of make-believe characters, and imaginings from epic tales and sweeping landscapes resonate through pieces named Goddess of Transformation, Celtic Queen, Triskelle Shadow and Dance of Fire.

Fitzpatrick’s blower on the forge puffs nostalgia onto searing metal as it yields to his design. The metal seems to hold that wistful breath, waiting for an unsuspecting customer to run their fingertips over its curves and crevices. It exhales so the casual browser hears the whisper of thundering horses, feels the creak of great castle gates, and the metal piece becomes their longed-for treasure.

The location helps, although Fitzpatrick believes the attraction to Celtic-inspired artwork lies in the metal itself representing the romantic notion of a lost era, a simpler lifestyle.

“It’s an ancient material that comes straight from the earth. That you can make something so beautiful out of something with such strength fascinates me and draws me to it. I think it’s the same for a lot of other people,” he says.

“I’ve had people come in and immediately say: ‘Mmm, that’s very Game of Thrones’. Before that it was Lord of the Rings.’’

Visitors to Talisman Gallery were also nostalgic for lost arts and skills, he said. “They see me making stuff and that transports them back a bit. Nobody sees anybody making stuff anymore. Nobody meets makers anymore.

“Some people come in here and it’s almost like a dream for them – there’s this guy living the ideal and you look out there and the sun’s shining a spotlight on the escarpment.”

Fitzpatrick believes his Celtic-inspired designs are manifestations of the ancient symbols and ideas he sees during his daily meditations.

“In my own case, I think it’s a past life thing. I’m trying to sculpt my spiritual journey.

“Years ago I had to make some sets for Sydney Theatre Company for a Shakespearean play. The sets were done in a Celtic design and I really connected with that, which is where I came up with my Celtic-inspired mirrors.’’

Fitzpatrick’s artistic journey began in the early 1980s, creating handmade knives and Tai Chi dancing swords in a small shop in Melbourne, before moving to Sydney and finally the Blue Mountains and Hartley.

Visitors to Talisman Gallery can also wander around Hartley and watch Fitzpatrick at work. Those yearning for a time before time can grab their own piece of metal art. The gallery is open 10am-5pm Tuesday to Sunday. Call Ron 0407 723 722 or talismangallery@bigpond.com.