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Conrad Hicks is an artist, blacksmith and tool-maker in Cape Town. He specialises in hand-forged metal work, using only traditional blacksmithing jointing methods as he believes these are essential to the symbolic meaning of the finished form. 

Born in Cape Town in 1966, Conrad studied sculpture at the Cape Technikon and graduated with a distinction in 1986. He worked in the art and restoration field in London initially, but was drawn to blacksmithing by his interest in the discipline of doing a ‘craft’. In 1991, he opened his forge workshop in Cape Town – today housed in The Bijou, an old Art Deco cinema in Observatory, which he bought and began restoring in 1998. 

Conrad sees his artistic practice as an instinctive search for beauty. Working intuitively, he allows his materials and labour-intensive process to determine the final form. In the process of cutting, pressing, heating, hammering and stretching metal, he discovers an archetypal language that calls to mind ancient art forms. 

His commissioned work has included gates, screens and sculptural installations for well-known Cape Town landmarks and public venues, such as Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Tokara Winery, Ellerman House and the 2010 World Cup Hero Walk, as well as for private residences in South Africa, the US and Switzerland.  

For the past 10 years, Conrad’s work has evolved to focus more on sculpture and one-off collectible pieces. He has exhibited with Southern Guild since 2013, when he was included in the influential Heavy Metal show at the Bronze Age Foundry in Woodstock. Since then he has shown to international audiences at design fairs such as Design Miami/ Basel, Design Days Dubai and Collective 1 in New York. He held his first solo, Implement, with the gallery in May 2019. 

Expressive and highly textured, his pieces have an intimate connection with nature, even as many veer towards abstraction. His Wife? Bench and the No. 2 From Maquette Series side-table retain a charged, animal-like energy, while other pieces – such as Chaise Muse and Copper Chaise – are more ethereal, the copper beaten so thin it appears to float. 

All of his work, from the most functional to the most purely sculptural, he sees as tools. He explains: “A blacksmith is a tool-maker: Whether the tool is used to cut or to communicate, they all hold the values of our society and represent our cultural achievement and become sacred objects.” 

Conrad Hicks
Firebird Chaise

Copper, high-carbon steel
237 x 81 x 83 cm
Unique

Conrad Hicks
Firebird Chaise

Copper, high-carbon steel
237 x 81 x 83 cm
Unique

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Conrad Hicks
Toolmaker’s Server

Cast iron, copper, brass, high-carbon steel
170 x 55 x 97/135 cm
Unique

Conrad Hicks
Toolmaker’s Server

Cast iron, copper, brass, high-carbon steel
170 x 55 x 97/135 cm
Unique

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Conrad Hicks
Serge Server

Copper, stainless steel
290 x 85 x 106 cm
Unique

Conrad Hicks
Serge Server

Copper, stainless steel
290 x 85 x 106 cm
Unique

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Conrad Hicks
Wife? Bench

Forged iron, copper
222 x 57 x 51 cm
One-off

Conrad Hicks
Wife? Bench

Forged iron, copper
222 x 57 x 51 cm
One-off

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Conrad Hicks
Artefact Chair

Wrought iron (approx. 150 years old), copper
105 x 73 x 94 cm
Unique

Conrad Hicks
Artefact Chair

Wrought iron (approx. 150 years old), copper
105 x 73 x 94 cm
Unique

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Conrad Hicks
No. 2 from Maquette Series

Forged Copper
108 x 51 x 98 cm
Unique

 

Conrad Hicks
No. 2 from Maquette Series

Forged Copper
108 x 51 x 98 cm
Unique

 

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Conrad Hicks
Component I

Copper, stainless steel, timber
40 x 40 x 188 cm
Unique

Conrad Hicks
Component I

Copper, stainless steel, timber
40 x 40 x 188 cm
Unique

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Conrad Hicks
Component II

Copper, stainless steel, timber
40 x 40 x 167 cm
Unique

Conrad Hicks
Component II

Copper, stainless steel, timber
40 x 40 x 167 cm
Unique

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Conrad Hicks
Copper Chaise

Forged iron, copper
120 x 65 x 110 cm
Unique

Conrad Hicks
Copper Chaise

Forged iron, copper
120 x 65 x 110 cm
Unique

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Conrad Hicks
Implement Bench/Table I

Forged iron, copper
80 x 60 x 70 cm
One-Off

Conrad Hicks
Implement Bench/Table I

Forged iron, copper
80 x 60 x 70 cm
One-Off

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Conrad Hicks
Implement Bench/Table II

Forged iron, copper
60 x 80 x 45 cm
One-Off

Conrad Hicks
Implement Bench/Table II

Forged iron, copper
60 x 80 x 45 cm
One-Off

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Conrad Hicks
Structure of Self

Copper, forged steel
250 x 250 x 400 cm
One-off

Conrad Hicks
Structure of Self

Copper, forged steel
250 x 250 x 400 cm
One-off

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