Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Some iron around Ypres

I don't want (at this point) to really comment about the vast destruction of Ypres during World War One. But I do want to put some of the iron work images contained here into some kind of context.

The following images relate the main market square in the centre of Ypres:
This is a 'before and after' WW1 - images roughly looking to the west. Note the pavillion.
This is an aerial view, facing roughly east. The arrows relate to the next image.
This is a large pannoramic view taken from the location of the original pavillion (seen in the first image) towards the arrows shown in the image just above. This image shot Sunday Sept 6, 2016.
The point of this introduction?
The town of Ypres was almost completely flattened by artillery bombardment from 1914 - 1918.
After the War, the returning population there chose to completely restore the central town exactly as it had been before the destruction. Most of this re-building took place in the early 1920's.

This has effected the iron work now seen around the city centre (inside the medieval defenses). There are occasionally pieces that had managed to survive the bombardment, picked out of the rubble and re-used. There are a great number of objects that are copies of the few 'artifacts'. There is also a good amount of replacement work, mostly dating to the post WW 1 period.

Wall brace - presumed 'orginal', on the Cathedral.
Many of the buildings in central Ypres have roughly similar forged pieces on the exterior. These typically run in a line that would mark the beams holding up second or upper floors. My best guess is that these serve as 'washers', the central staple (clearly seen here) being attached to the wood beams on the other side of the wall.  There are many on 'newer' buildings that are obviously just decorative.
Grill Pannel - Inside the Cathedral
Framing the 'new' alter in the Cathedral is a series of tall hand forged grills. These are 'new' (dating to the restoration in the 1920's). Many traditional forming and joinnery techniques are seen - hot punching  & spliting (with elements inserted) / rivets / collars / forge welding. This was an amazing piece of work.
Door grill pannel
There are a large number of both 'security' door grills and rails for small balconies. These range in complexity from simple (but often effective) scroll work to more elaborate forgings like the one seen here. (We noticed that although the original client had obviously asked for the initials D M to be included - the two oval shapes make the text read out DooM !) A piece that shows both forge and more modern torch or arc welding (certainly available by 1920's).
New and old work
This combination caught my eye.
What was likely originally a bell pull on the right was certainly hand forged, appeared to be actual wrought iron material. From its condition I would guess created well before the 1900's.
The quite elaborate door panels appear much more modern, certainly after the restoration effort. Perhaps even a contemporary work, created to match the lines found elsewhere around Ypres.

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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