100 Years of Rotary
- Installed 02/06/2023
One hundred Years of Rotary is a Public Art Sculpture by local artist and blacksmith Will Maguire. This work, which has been installed in the Townhead Park precinct near the Singleton Arts + Cultural Centre, is the first addition to the centre’s developing public art program.
The project was made possible through the Singleton Community and Economic Development Fund, a grant managed by Singleton Council, The Bloomfield Group and Glencore. It is the result of eighteen months of collaborative planning between Singleton Council, the Rotary Club of Singleton on Hunter, and artist Will Maguire.
The commemorative sculpture celebrates one hundred years of Rotary service in Australia. Will recognises the importance of this anniversary, saying: ‘To me Rotary is really about people doing things for people. Building community and doing good things for each other, locally and internationally’. It is this spirit of community that Will has captured in his sculpture, a striking contemporary bronze and sandstone work.
‘What I have tried to do is focus on the individual only insofar as it forms a necessary yet incomplete part of the more abstract group. As communities and societies are always somewhat intangible entities. This, I hope, can be understood as recognition of the ongoing community-building work achieved by Rotary, made possible by the individuals embodying the Rotary motto of ‘service above self’.
Will Maguire is a local Blacksmith residing at an old dairy in the Elderslie, NSW countryside. This idyllic Hunter Valley location hosts a purpose-built blacksmithing studio in which Will forges artworks and functional architectural structures for both private and public commissions. Will began his training at the age of fifteen when he was inducted into this age-old artform, here in the Hunter Valley. Will speaks fondly of his training saying that this thousand-year-old practice is ‘… passed down from master to apprentice, generation after generation.’ His training led him to travel the globe as a ‘journeyman’, building his skills through working and living in different countries in the early 2000’s. Will explains,
‘The Journeyman tradition of travelling to hone your trade after your initial training is still alive and well within the blacksmithing community and it is always a pleasure to host young smiths if they make it to our distant shores’.
Will’s enthusiasm for this age-old modality is evident in the way he talks about the forging of this sculptural work:
‘The heads used in this work were quite exciting to make as they used quite large sections of tough alloy steel being pushed around to create facial expressions in a really plastic way. This has to happen in the moment, at arm’s length while the steel is still 1000 degrees. Some of the work was done with large power hammers, but the faces required careful teamwork on the anvil with a striker swinging a sledgehammer to form the lips and nose in particular. This felt very much like pushing traditional blacksmithing to its edges, trying to understand the face while pretending we were working with clay rather than steel’.
This desire to apply an experimental approach to a traditional modality led Will to extend his training to attain a Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy) with distinction, at the University of Newcastle where he also undertook studies in Botanic Illustration and Design.
Will’s diverse creative practice has seen him achieve many notable accomplishments including a commission as the master blacksmith and design lead for a large collaborative WW1 peace monument in Belgium. Closer to home, Will has created public art works with local and national Councils and galleries in Melbourne, Canberra, Maitland, Wagga Wagga and Newcastle. His sculptural work has also been represented in a number of Sydney Galleries and at Sculpture by the Sea.
For further information and enquiries contact: Will Maguire | Artist Blacksmith (willblacksmith.com.au) or @maguirewill.
image top left: Edwina Richards
image top right: Will Maguire
image bottom left: Will Maguire
image bottom right: James Fox Creative