Wrought Iron in Zimbabwe
Sustainable Innovation with Wrought Iron
Traditionally, people in Zimbabwe have always associated wrought iron works with the adornment of the outdoors for security gates and doors, garden and patio furniture and accessories. Totem Shumba Estate, a wrought-iron manufacturer located in the heart of Umwinsidale, Harare, challenges that perception by having a deliberate design revolution of its own.
It is limitless, it is for everywhere and it is one’s own imagination that limits where one can place the ornaments and decorative wrought iron furniture they are manufacturing.
Incidentally, the use of iron dates as far back as 4000BC. The Bronze age Indo-European speaking people of Anatolia also known as Hittites were the first known users of iron because they are the ones who had first developed the tools and skills to extract it and manufacture weapons. Use of iron was mainly utilitarian until the Middle Ages, it became widely used for decoration in the period between the 16th and 19th century.
According to Wikipedia, in medieval times the use of ironwork for decorative purposes was more common than it is today. Essentially, iron was used as security measures put on doors and windows of places that stored valuable pieces from looters and theft and was also used for decoration as can be seen at Canterbury Cathedral, Winchester Cathedral and Notre Dame de Paris. Armour also was decorated, often simply but occasionally elaborately. From the 16th century onwards, ironwork became highly ornate especially in the Baroque and Rococo periods.
In Spain, elaborate screens of iron were built in all of the Spanish cathedrals rising up to 9-metres high, (Wikipedia, 2012). In France, highly decorative iron balconies, stair railings and gateways were highly fashionable from 1650. Jean Tijou brought the style to England and examples of his work can be seen at Hampton Court and St. Pauls Cathedral. Wrought ironwork was widely used in the UK during the 18th in gates and railings in London and towns such as Oxford and Cambridge.