Skip to main content

Forging connections between art and the environment happens naturally in the Off Season.

For artist and industrial blacksmith Pete Mattila, winter in Tasmania is also an ideal time to test your limits.

“When it's really dark, it's cold, sometimes the rain is coming in sideways … that's when you find where your edges are,” he says.

Mattila embraces the Off Season chill with his morning swimming ritual in the River Derwent, right out front of his studio in Hobart’s historical Battery Point.

"It's been the best thing – fully immersing, using that cold and using what's here outside your front door as your medicine."

Winter also prods the heavy steel door of Mattila Studio open to visitors. Mattila’s sell-out blacksmithing events and workshops draw people from across the country.

“It allows me to share that passion I have for steelwork and metal, and the creative side of metalwork,” Mattila says.

Workshops cover everything from forging essentials to crafting Japanese-style chef knives, filling the cosy workshop with the warmth of fire and the heavy sounds of the tools and industrial machinery of the trade. In one Off Season workshop, attendees make blades using purely Tasmanian iron ores.

“That's very specific to the place,” he says, “where we actually start with the rock or the ore and we smelt all of that down and then fuse it together.

Forging, making something that is actually heirloom quality – you're going to have these objects that you make with us forever.

From his first exposure to blacksmithing, Mattila was captivated. As an apprentice, he saw the potential for the practical to be transferred into an art context, which led him to work on large-scale installations and sculpture.

“What inspires me is the processes of the craft – it has inspired the artwork. Mastering the craft has allowed me a palette to be able to draw from in designing the work that I make today,” he says.

“Now I'm in a position where I feel like I can share some of that knowledge and running these workshops is part of being able to do that.”  

A man wearing heavy denim clothing and a hat works a gas-powered furnace controlled by a chain.
Pete Mattila in his Battery Point studio.
Tourism Tasmania
A man wearing a hat works at a piece of white-hot steal on an anvil with a metal hammer.
Mattila’s Off Season knife-making workshops are sell-out events.
Tourism Tasmania

Natural bond

Mattila arrived in Tasmania while travelling and fell in love with the landscape. After years splitting time between the island and his native United States, he realised Tasmania had his heart.

“I'd wake up in the morning and think I could hear the birds from [Tasmania] when I was over [in the United States]. I’m like, ‘I know what this is – Tasmania is my place’. And I listened to that.”

He’s since put down deep roots on the island, maintaining his workshop and space, and growing his community.

Mattila acknowledges there’s something different that Tasmania has to offer visitors – a uniqueness of spirit that comes with life on a small island at the edge of the Earth.

“There's a lot of ‘do it yourself’ mentality. And being curious of that is my biggest advice. Because that's something really special.”

It’s the quirky, off-the-beaten-track towns, roadside stalls and tiny local businesses that appeal most to Mattila.

Each Off Season, he makes a solo pilgrimage to the west coast to spend time on the remote and rugged coastline.

“That's where the wild is,” he says.

An aerial photograph of a water crashing onto a vast, sandy beach near the coast.
Ocean Beach, west coast
Jason Charles Hill

Regardless of where on the island you travel, for anyone wanting to truly immerse in winter, Mattila has some sage advice:

Make the cold your friend. Also, make the amount of dark over light, make that your friend. Learn how to be with it.

For Mattila, the raw feelings provoked by the island’s natural environment share a bond with his work.

“It's not a fully choreographed experience, taking a bushwalk in Tasmania. There's still proper wild happening and that makes me feel really human,” he says.

“And it's the same when I'm forging steel. All I can think about is that moment of what's happening at that time and it's so real.

“That's what I want to fill my life with – as much real stuff as possible.”

A man wearing a hat, denim jacket, black jeans and boats leans against the open door of a metal workshop.
Pete Mattila
Tourism Tasmania

Want more?

Get creative across the island with these Off Season offers:

  • Retreat to the Bay of Fires with Tasmanian Walking Company for four days of creativity led by artist Peter Gouldthorpe. Paint landscapes by day and indulge in artistic discussions over fine food and wine by night.
  • Nurture your inner musician during a stay at the Huon Valley’s DashWu Steading. Be inspired by composer Stephen Cronin during a one-on-one introduction to the art of setting words to music.
  • Launceston’s Design Tasmania presents Unsettling Queenstown – Architectural Intelligence, direct from the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale: an immersion into Tasmania’s haunting history and mesmerising landscapes.
  • Allow your creativity to flow and your mind wander by the warming fireplace. Leave behind tall tales and pen inspiring ideas for others to embrace during a winter getaway at Ship Inn Stanley.


Hobart frequently asked questions

Where to experience art in Tasmania

Tasmania is home to a burgeoning community of artists and creatives. See their work first hand at exhibitions and shows, museums and galleries; wander the transformed heritage warehouses of Hobart’s Salamanca Place, filled with boutique galleries, shops and artisan studios; get lost in riotous festivals and artsy events. This Off Season, discover creative offers right across the island – from pottery workshops to historical exhibitions and dark-room forays into film photography.

How to get to Hobart

Tasmania’s waterfront capital city is one of the island’s main gateways. By air, fly direct to Hobart Airport from Melbourne (1hr 15min), Sydney (1hr 55min), Brisbane (2hr 45min), Adelaide (1hr 55min), Perth (4hr 10min), Gold Coast (2hr 40min) and Canberra (2hr). Hobart is a 3hr 30min drive south of Devonport, the arrival port for the Spirit of Tasmania ferry from Victoria. Find out more about getting to Tasmania.

Where to stay in Hobart

Hobart’s accommodation is as colourful and diverse as the city itself. Find cosy stays in the heart of the city, opt to rest by the waterfront in vibrant Salamanca, or take a step back in time in history-rich Battery Point. Choose from plush waterfront lodgings, opulent hotels, heritage cottages, and friendly hostels. Ready to browse? Discover a variety of Hobart accommodation.

Stay in the know

A flurry of unmissable Off Season offers and events has blown in for the winter. Subscribe for curated Off Season updates and handy tips.

Please add a valid name
Please select your location
A large procession of people carrying flags walk in a long, sprawling line towards a performance stage in the background.

By creating an account on Discover Tasmania, you agree to the terms of use outlined in our Privacy Statement

Success! You are now logged in.

Add to trip

Which trip would you like to add this to?

Need to Remove from a trip?

Remove from trip

Select the trip you would like to remove this from.


You have nearly reached the Explore Map plot limit of 27 items per itinerary.

Try splitting itineraries, rather than creating one large itinerary.

Manage trips
Please try again in a few moments.