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I found Julie endlessly flexible, creative, hardworking and supportive.

The Landing: a community arts project

Julie was approached by the Artist / Sculptor Leigh Dyer in 2016. Leigh and the British association of Blacksmith Artists had been awarded £10,000 by Hastings Borough Council (Arts Council Funding) as part of a small grants process around the Route 1066 festival, an arts festival to celebrate the 950th Anniversary of 1066. They had committed to installing a sculpture (‘The Landing”) of the prow of a Norman Longboat onto Hastings Beach, and to deliver this partly through a long weekend of open air forging (in a popular public space by the beach). Blacksmith Artists from across the UK would be invited to Hastings to help forge the top of the sculpture. The total cost of the project was around £50,000 and beyond the grant from Hastings Borough Council, there were no other funds raised, or pledged. Neither Leigh Dyer, nor the British Artist Blacksmith Association had charitable / not for profit status, so grant and foundation fundraising was not an option. That meant we were dependant on raising funds from within Hastings, the most deprived local authority in the South East of England, and the 20th most deprived in the UK.

In the event that Julie had not managed to raise the funds, the project would either have not gone ahead (hugely embarrassing for all concerned, especially as Leigh Dyer forging was the image used to promote the festival!), or would have gone ahead with Leigh and two other artists working full time on a sculpture for 3 months, and not getting paid. Given this scenario, Julie worked on this project on a no win no fee basis, (the one and only time she has ever done this) because she felt if the artists didn’t get paid, she could not accept payment for her work.

We achieved the full fundraising target and overshot it by £4,500 – (we had stated any funds raised beyond what was needed would be used to promote blacksmith art in the area). These funds are currently being put towards a mobile forge to give children and young people a chance to discover a passion for forging, which with the disappearance of metal work from schools, they may not otherwise get. We achieved this result with a combination of crowd funding, corporate fundraising and small local pots (e.g. round table, rotary clubs etc.). We also attached a time capsule to the sculpture (which will be opened on the 1000 year anniversary of 1066), which is waterproof, and buried underneath the sculpture in the beach; and for a small fee (£10) offered local people the chance to leave a letter to a loved one (usually children) that will be forwarded to them in 2066. (Julie sourced a genealogy firm who agreed to help trace people, and negotiated with the Council who agreed to dig up the capsule in 2066).