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Students preparing for international metal casting competition

Degree students at Coleg Sir Gâr’s Carmarthen School of Art are preparing to fire-up their furnace with a burning ambition to win an award in the National Conference on Contemporary Cast Iron and Art Practices, Alabama.

The college is no stranger to this annual competition as former degree sculpture students have travelled to the historic Sloss Furance in Birmingham, Alabama in previous years to take part.

Carmarthen School of Art at Coleg Sir Gâr is the only college to offer an iron casting facility across the whole of the UK as well as being the only provider of sculpture degrees in Wales and one of five providers across the UK.

Travel restrictions due to the global pandemic mean that the competition will be for the first time, held online, from 31 March to 3 April, 2021.

Furnaces must be fabricated by students and the theme is Lived Histories/Imagined Futures which programme director and sculpture lecturer Lisa Evans says holds space for multiple perspectives, joining together in listening to the past and imagining a shared future.

Team captain Kerry Collison will lead her teammates Anwen Howells, Kezi Ferguson, Jethro Shimidzu and Thomas Bellingham.

Carmarthen School of Art programme director for sculpture, Lisa Evans, said: “This is a friendly competition which invites global participation to introduce students to furnace design, construction, mould making and furnace operation as a team on the national stage.

“It’s a unique opportunity for sculpture students to participate in an international cast iron competition and is an integral part of their learning.

“We encourage students to develop connections with organisations, institutions and businesses to support their journey which can provide future opportunities after their studies.”

Awards include viral reach, hottest overall metal, production furnace, school spirit, catwalk award and community choice.

Sloss Furnaces is a national historic landmark which operated as a pig iron-producing blast furnace from 1882 to 1971.  After closing, it became one of the first industrial sites, and the only blast furnace, in the US to be preserved and restored for public use.


Top picture: The historic National Sloss Furnace where the competition normally takes place in Birmingham, Alabama