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Ford Ian Hallam

Nationality: English


1963: Born: 8 June, Munster, West Germany.

1980: 1 year foundation course at Ruth Prowse School of Art.

1985: Qualified with distinction after completing a 5 year apprenticeship

as a goldsmith and “mounter of diamonds in precious metals”.

1988: Left South Africa to move to London to pursue research
into Japanese metalwork technique.


1991: Spring, Cornwall, set up workshop and begun exploration of tsuba
making technique. Developed his own approach to hand carving steel
using handmade chisels.
Begun personal research into ferrous metal patination.

1992: Tsuba placed 3rd "Nyusen" in Nihon Bijitsu Token

Hozon Kyokai
(The Society for the Preservation of Japanese Art Swords) annual
shinsaku (Newly made) competition.

Won 3rd prize with knife design and sample in Sakai cutlery design competition, Sakai City, Japan.

1993: Autumn, Japan, Awarded a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship for a 10 week study of traditional Japanese metalwork technique with Izumi Koshiro Sensei.

Studied nunome-zogan technique with National Living Treasure, Kashima Ikkoku III. and his grandson, Kashima Kazuo.

1994: Spring, 2 months in Tokyo on Bunka-Cho grant (Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs) sponsored by The Japan Art Crafts Association.

Studied classical, hollow form, raising technique (Tankin) with Kenji Io. Introduced to the processes of mokume-gane by Tamagawa Norio.

Birmingham City Art Museum solo exhibition, The museum also purchased 2 of Ford's tsuba.

November; Tokyo for 10 weeks on 2nd Bunka-Cho grant.(Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs)

1995: Started concentrating on the restoration of Meiji period metalwork for specialist dealers in London.
Exhibited in the Japan connections exhibition with Cornwall Crafts Association.

1996 ~ 2005 Specialised in the restoration of Meiji period export metalwork.
Continued to submit tsuba to the NBTHK competitions and received nyusen for all his works. Nyusen being the designation given to work that is appraised by the judges as being authentic tsuba in the best traditions of Japanese design and workmanship.

2001: Second exhibition of tsuba and other works at the Birmingham City Art Museum.

2006: Returned to Cape Town, South Africa to concentrate on his own artistic development. 

2007: Work exhibited at the Museum of Art and Design, New York.

Showed netsuke at the International Netsuke convention in Miami, USA.
Artist in residence at Hishio Cultural Exchange Centre, Katsuyama, Okayama prefecture, Japan.

2009: Recreated a missing tsuba featuring a tiger in bamboo by the Edo period master, Hagia Katsuhira ( 1804 ~1886)
This lengthy and complex project was recorded by film maker Brad Schaffer in a documentary titled; Utsushi, The search for Katsuhira's tiger.

2010: Awarded Gijutsu Shorei Sho (Skill Incentive Award) for a tsuba submitted in the 1st Nihonto Bunka Shinko Kyokai (NBSK) " Sword Craftsmen Exhibition". This work, featuring a dragonfly, was exhibited at the Okura Shuko Kan Museum in Toranomon, Tokyo. 

2012: Awarded Kin-Sho (Gold Prize) for a tsuba submitted to the 3rd Nihonto Bunka Shinko Kyokai (NBSK) "Sword Craftsmen Exhibition". This work, entitled "Under pines, beneath the moon", was exhibited at the Okura Shuko Kan Museum in Toranoman, Tokyo.


October: Ran a 4 week intensive course at the studio of Zack Jonas (bladesmith) in Wilmot, New Hampshire. This Ironbrush Immersion was a groundbreaking event, the first of it's kind anywhere, and was concieved as a way to provide in depth and expert instruction in the craft. This event and subsequent exposure has invigorated and inspired the wider metalworking craft community and has helped make available the authentic tradition of Classical Japanese Metalwork to a broader audience. More such intensives are planned.


2013: Awarded 1st Kin-Sho (Top Gold in the Tosogu and tsuba making section) for a tsuba submitted to the 4th annual NBSK competition. In Tokyo, Japan. This piece, entitled Dragonfly Glade, features some reeds by a riverside and a delicately inlaid and carved dragonly. It was exhibited at the Okura Shuko Kan Museum.


2014: Moved back from South Africa to Torquay, England.

April and May: Ran introductory classes in Classical Japanese metalwork near Seattle, WA and in New Hampshire, USA.

June: Awarded 'Tokusho', or Special Prize (above the previous gold prizes) at the annual NBSK Craftsmen's Awards, the Sakaki-cho Kyoikuinkai Kyoiku-Cho Sho (The Head of the Sakaki Village (Nagano Pref.) Department of Education's Award. 

Ford continues to travel to Japan on a regular basis,  to visit his teacher and his family, and also to continue his study, and deepen his appreciation of, the finest of Japanese classical metal art.

He continues to research the classical tradition through careful analysis of antique work as well as through his own developing mastery of his technique and materials. In conjunction with his development as a contemporary artist in this ancient tradition he is also committed to producing the seminal work on the technique, materials and aesthetics of Classical Japanese decorative metalwork.

Ford Hallam's work is held in collections in the United Kingdom, The United States, Canada, France, Germany and in 2 museums in Japan.
Kiyomizo Sannenzaka Museum, Kyoto, Japan
Kyoto Seishu Netsuke Art Museum, Kyoto, Japan

Artists Statement:

I find myself in a uniquely privileged position with reference to the Classical Japanese tradition. Having become part of this continuum I have a responsibility to represent an accurate picture of what that constitutes.  At the same time I am developing my own creative “voice” from within the context of a tradition that is more than 1000 years old. The tension between these very different positions demands a continual process of re-evaluation, with each continually informing my understanding and expression of the other.

I take as inspiration the, almost organic, subtle surface textures and forms that my working processes yield. Any representational aspects of my work are in fact chosen, not so much for any symbolic or narrative value but rather to allow me to further explore a more delicate combination of form, colour and material. Any “life” I am able to impart to my creations comes about through this intimate exploration of the medium and a devotion to the processes I employ.

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