Can iron be poetic? In Moshav Matat, at the top of the Galilee, near the town of Hurfish, we were given a positive reply. At the entrance to the small community, a unique center is alive and breathing, featuring, side by side, a workshop for iron furniture, an exhibition of iron sculptures and a gallery comprising a coffee shop. It goes without saying that guests sit on iron furniture manufactured on site by the person responsible for it all, Yuval Telem, a blacksmith, who has been living here with his wife, Mira for many years.
A visit to a blacksmith workshop is always a totalistic experience. However, here, above the small plant in which Yuval bends, welds, hammers, separates and joins pieces of iron to his hearts delight and in sight of the observing public, there is also a gallery and a coffee shop with a permanent exhibition of his works.
“I create in iron”, he says, and in order to agree with him, one should see the curiosity and admiration on faces of the visitors surrounding him inside his small plant, in order to see how he creates his unique sculptures and furniture; as Yuval is a blacksmith with the heart of an artist. With his two hands he creates iron furniture: tables, chairs and more, with legs that may appear very thin, but in fact are strong and sturdy. Something gentle and fragile instills a contrast in the many works piled at the second floor, where the café is located. And there too visitors will find forged tables and chairs on which they may sit, drink a cup of cafe au lait or strong espresso and taste excellent homemade cakes.
The man is an autodidact who never studied art. His style is influenced by the works of the artists Diego Giacometti, using a clean style, very thin features, straight and bent lines as well as latticed curves; modernism with great respect to the magnificent history of the material – the iron.
We sat on an elegantly designed iron chair, next to an elegant iron table in the café gallery that is open on weekends; we gazed at the mountainous landscape and the yard full of sculptures that could be seen through the huge window, sipped café au lait, ate the excellent cake, and quietly envied those who chose to live here.