Great Balls of Fire

We have just installed a gate for a regular customer down on St Leonard’s seafront. The Glass Bubble Gate matches an interior screen we did at the property a few years ago. But this time the metalwork had to be galvanised to withstand the corrosion of the salt air. After a bit of experimentation in the forge we worked out how to fix the glass balls in place just using the spring of forged steel.

The gate also features an upside down latch so that another glass ball could be suspended in the latch handle.

The Web of Life

We’ve just installed this spider and fly inspired wall hanging on a house in Guestling, East Sussex. As the earth reaches the winter solstice it’s a powerful and shiny reminder that all things work in cycles. In just one weeks time the light of summer will soon be returning.

On the hoof

Meet Prissy, a life-size Gypsy cob horse forged in steel by artist blacksmith Jake Bowers, as part of National Trust’s Changing Chalk project, which celebrates the contribution of diverse communities to the South Downs landscape.

For many hundreds of years Gypsies and Travellers have lived, worked and travelled in the South Downs, contributing their bit to one of the most beautiful of British landscapes. Yet look closely and evidence for that past is almost impossible to see.

So, throughout the Spring and Summer of 2023 artist blacksmith Jake Bowers and scores of community members set to work to make a permanent and powerful reminder of that presence as part of the National Trust’s Changing Chalk Project. Their sculpture of a life-sized Gypsy cob will soon find a permanent home in the downs.

“The measurements for the sculpture came from a real-life model – Winnie, the much-loved horse owned by my sister Priscilla Bowers. By taking this lovely mare’s vital statistics we had a life-sized model to that could be made steel,” says Jake.

“After the framework and legs were welded firmly on, we decided it was time to take Priscilla, Queen of the South, as she had become known, on a nationwide tour so that members of our community, the public and public sector workers could each forge part of her massive mane, feathery feet and tail.”

The sculpture was taken on a 1000-mile tour throughout Britain from the National Trust’s property at Devil’s Dyke in the South Downs, via Appleby Fair in Cumbria and the Tilford Rural Life Centre in Surrey.

If you want to be involved, get in touch with Jake Bowers on 07966 786242 Changing Chalk is a multi-partner, multi-project initiative led by the National Trust. Its aim is to restore lost habitats, bring histories to life, and provide new experiences in the outdoors.

This installation is currently hosted at the University of Sussex as part of the National Trust’s ‘Changing Chalk’ project, which is a landscape-scale partnership connecting nature, people and heritage on and around the South Downs. It is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and The Linbury Trust

For more information on the Changing Chalk Partnership please visit:

Bridge over bubbled water

We have spent much of the last couple of month’s renovating this 10 metre long decorative bridge that spans a stream on a private estate in East Sussex. We painstakingly took it apart and renovated each panel with stronger elements and added a touch of our own, two initialled panels that mark the day a young couple got married on July 1st 2023.

The new panels are an inspired way to mark an important moment in time in one of Sussex’s most beautiful bluebell woodlands. The timelapse below represents the culmination of weeks of hard work.

As the newlyweds embark on a life together we wish the best of married bliss.

Labour of Love

An East Sussex secondary school has unveiled the first statue of a Romany heroine in British history to mark Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month

Britain’s first sculpture of a Romany heroine has been unveiled at an East Sussex Secondary School. At 9:00am on the 15th of June 2023, a forged steel sculpture of Kizzy Lovell, the iconic Romany protagonist of Rumer Godden’s 1972 novel the Diddakoi was unveiled by her creator Artist Blacksmith Jake Bowers. Although there are over 600,000 Romany citizens living in Britain, this sculpture is thought to be the first to ever depict a Romany character.

In the 1972 novel, later turned into the BBC TV series Kizzy, central character Kizzy Lovell is ruthlessly bullied because of her Romany identity. Overcoming racism from fellow pupils and local residents in the town of Rye, Kizzy claims her rightful place in British society. The sculpture was created by pupils of the Hastings Academy and Sussex Gypsies and Travellers to mark the 50th anniversary of the book in a project coordinated by the Hastings based A Town Explores a Book arts festival. Now freshly galvanised she has been installed at the entrance of the Hastings Academy to remind all pupils to be proud of the things that make them unique. She is being unveiled in June to mark Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month.

Simon Addison, Principal of the Hastings Academy, is proud to host the statue of Kizzy Lovell on school property. He says: “The story of the Diddakoi is thought to be the first example of a mixed- race Romany protagonist appearing in British children’s literature. In the story Kizzy overcomes racist bullying from school children to claim her rightful place for herself and her identity in the small town of Rye. We are proud that from now on she’ll be right next to Rye Road as a reminder that all cultures are valued and respected within our school. For our pupils with a Gypsy, Roma or Traveller identity it is also powerful message that schools are places where their culture is cherished and celebrated.”

Artist blacksmith Jake Bowers is delighted that the sculpture has found a permanent home in a school where his three daughters all went. He says: “When I went to school there was no mention of our culture at all, our heritage was derided and hated. Using the original Romany craft of blacksmithing was always going to be the best way to create a powerful representation of such a bold, defiant, and resilient culture. I hope that Kizzy’s presence at the entrance to the school on Rye Road will remind every Romany person that sees her to be proud of the 1000-year journey our ancestors made from India.”

Underlining the power public sculpture has to tackle racism, Archie, a 15 year old pupil who comes from a Gypsy family said: “The day the sculpture went up was the first day I have not been called a f***ing Pikey!” All of the schools 900 pupils have been in assemblies focusing on Gypsy and Traveller identity and history.

The Hastings Academy is part of the University of Brighton Academies Trust, a family of infant, primary and secondary schools based in Sussex. A spokesperson for the Trust expressed their enthusiasm and said “The University of Brighton Academies Trust are committed to promoting inclusivity and celebrating diversity across all its academies and are delighted to see our Hastings community marking a moment in history. We are dedicated to providing a nurturing environment where all pupils feel valued and supported. This sculpture serves as a testament to the importance of inclusivity and cultural representation within our educational institutions.”

Pupils and Staff at the Hastings Academy welcome their newest and most determined pupil. Photo: Gail Borrow / A Town Explores a Book

BBC South East News reported on the unveiling on June 15th in the following news report.

Sacred Flame

We’ve just finished repairing and upcycling these altar candle sticks for the Norman Church in Guestling, East Sussex. Originally made in an art deco style to accompany the crucifix behind the church altar, they were dropped at some point and bent out of shape. We fixed them, expanded the base and added some forged foliage to mark the greenery of creation.

The Reverend Sandi Wickens seen here commissioned the renovation thanks to a bequest so they also have plaques that commemorate the lives of Lord and Lady Ashburnham.

From one extreme to another

We’ve just installed two very different pieces of work for a lovely client in Fairlight. A fabricated angular balcony for the exterior, shot blast, zinc sprayed and powder coated in grey.

And a hand forged organic ballustrade for inside the house finished in anodic bronze. Two very different pieces that really illustrate the varied potential of bespoke metalwork.

Time for a Change

When the head of Sandown Primary School in Hastings wanted a little something to remind his parents to get their kids in on time he came up with a big idea with which to decorate the tower at his school.

We’ve just fitted a forged tree clock to the outside the school and the amazing headteacher, even got up the scaffold to help us fit it. The clock includes a mechanism that can be adjusted from the comfort of his office and even changes automatically when the clocks change in the spring and autumn.

Wave on

When an Air B+B owned wanted something different to stop his guests falling off a high balcony we used water twists and random negative spaces to create a 10 metre balustrade that is every bit as interesting as the sea view behind it.