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1 Read the following article from a magazine and answer the questions 1-5.


Throughout the ages, iron has exerted a powerful pull on the human imagination, and the men who work it have often been regarded as much more than skilled craftsmen. Before the Industrial Revolution, blacksmiths enjoyed the same status as doctors and astrologers, because they were the sole providers of weapons, armour and farming tools.

They have also been feted as artists. Eighteen-century smiths produced the wonderfully baroque ironwork of St Paul's Cathedral. The sinuous metalwork of French and Belgian Art Nouveau architecture was always the work of a talented blacksmith.

But practitioners of these ancient skills had become almost extinct in Britain by the late 1960s, for heavy industry had ceased to have any use for them, and towerblock architects rarely used anything as graceful and pleasing as a wrought-iron handrail.

Over the past 10 years, however, there has been something of a revival - thanks greater interest in decorative architecture and a less conservative approach to interior design. Even so, much of the work looks surprisingly cliched: manufacturers of gates and balconies still advertise their wares as 'classical' or 'Victorian-style'. You can't walk into a trendy design store without being assailed by rusty candlesticks with dangly bits.

Thankfully, alternatives exist and a series of events over the next few weeks aims to promote the blacksmith's craft. The first of these, an exhibition of forged ironwork by members of the British Artist Blacksmiths Association (BABA ) opened last week at the Fire and Iron gallery in Leatherhead, Surrey.

Alan Dawson, the secretary of BABA, says: 'We could be at the start of a new Iron Age, because in a sense, both the general public and blacksmiths have had their blinkers removed.' power tools have liberated smiths from all that labouring over a hot anvil, and they can now bend, split, twist and spot-weld the metal with relative ease. 'In short,' says Dawson, 'these artists now have a material which allows them to express themselves.'

About 250 pieces have been produced for the show, ranging from bookends to a spiral staircase. Reserve prices start at £ 90 and climb well into four figures. Most of the money raised will go to individual makers, 'but a percentage of every sale will be retained by the Association for the promotion of good ironwork,' says Dawson.

His own contributions consist of an eight-foot gate, and a standard lamp toped with a mouth-blown glass shade.

'My style results from just allowing steel to bend and flow into shape when it's hot. It's a bit like drawing with metal in space,' he says.

Many of the artists admit to being fascinated by iron. unlike most metals, which are relatively malleable when cold, iron and steel are a tougher, more demanding medium. Susan May, a jeweller by training, says, "It's quite magical because it's incredibly soft when it's hot, but as soon as it cools down, it becomes really rigid and immovable again."

Ann Catrin Evans' mild steel door-knockers and handles seem to have been inspired by those bleak castles that are a stock feature of horror films. One of her designs is shaped like a ball and chain, another like a Celtic cross. "I love the fact that steel is cold and hard," she says. "And the way it feels as tough it's there forever."

No other base metal can have given man as much visual pleasure or greater feeling of security. The chances of iron being used decoratively for the next thousand years are good, to say the least - as long as we don't have to look at any more rusty candlesticks, that is.

  1. Interest in blacksmiths' work has revived because:
    1. they have developed a number of new skills.
    2. people have started to want variety in design
    3. gates and balconies have come back into fashion
    4. they now produce better-quality products.
  2. What is the aim of the BABA exhibition?
    1. To demonstrate the modern blacksmith at work.
    2. To encourage people to become blacksmiths.
    3. To promote the tools available to blacksmiths.
    4. To show what modern blacksmith can produce.
  3. Some of the profits from the show will be used
    1. to start an association of blacksmiths.
    2. to purchase good materials for blacksmiths to use.
    3. to publicise high-quality goods made by blacksmiths.
    4. to run training courses for blacksmiths.
  4. Susan May likes using iron because
    1. it is perfect for making jewellery.
    2. it can easily be shaped when cold.
    3. it is challenging to work with.
    4. it becomes cool very quickly.
  5. Which of the following statements best expresses the writer's view?
    1. The art of decorative ironwork is likely to survive.
    2. The revival of interest in blacksmiths will be short-lived.
    3. Old-fashioned ironwork will come back into fashion.
    4. Blacksmiths are unfortunately a thing of the past.
The British Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) announced at the end of last month its intention to invests a further £13.6m in schemes such as the conservation of historic gardens, the digitising of archives, and training in traditional skills such as blacksmithing and thatching. 788 new placements will deliver 700 years’ worth of work-based training for people seeking a career in heritage across the UK.

Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of HLF, said: "This extra money expands our tailored skills programmes at a time when demand for training opportunities is extraordinarily high. The Heritage Lottery Fund has been championing work-based placements for a number of years and we are pleased to be able to give even more financial support through the Training Bursaries and Skills for the Future programmes. Together, they are on course to deliver 2,200 training places by 2015. This is good news for the heritage sector which a decade ago feared that many key skills would be lost."

John Hayes MP, Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, said: "Britain’s heritage forms a fundamental part of our society and economy; it underpins the very fabric of this country and is envied the world over. It is vital that we make every effort to preserve it and the incredible variety of skills it takes to maintain our heritage sites. The Heritage Lottery Fund should be commended for its track record on generating a significant number of opportunities for people to get on-the-job experience. This cash boost to 51 training projects will enable them to keep going for another three years and equip the heritage workforce with an even wider range of skills."
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