In the light of only a few weeks ago the government indicating that it was ratifying the UNESCO Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage in June 2024 it seems appropriate to highlight this book of fantastic photos of makers; traditional craft skills being one of the five domains specified in that Convention. (For more on the Convention see here.)
Craft and craftspeople photograph really well, but not everyone can capture the skill, beauty and excitement of makers making. This certainly isn’t the case with this book. Roger Lee’s thoughtful and sensitive images show not only the end results of the making, but the stages in the process, the skills used, the tools, and the workshops of practitioners. It makes for a fascinating insight into the various stages in producing wonderful craft and the application of years of practice.
Roger focuses on the makers in and around his home town of Sevenoaks, in Kent, and if you ever thought that not much craft was going on in your area, then this is a tangible demonstration disproving that! From a hat maker to a harness maker, a sign writer to a jeweller, a violin restorer (as here) to a tool maker, and more, they’re all featured in this book.
Gill Stratton is a hat maker in a local village. She makes hats for posh occasions such as Ascot and Royal Garden Parties, but also for weddings and christenings, and ones to keep you warm in winter and shaded from the sun in summer. Skills needed are not just those to create the structure and decoration on the hat, but also in how to deal with the materials and fabric used, and colour theory to match outfits.
It is not only skilled practitioners in Roger’s book, Joshua Hook is an apprentice jeweller who won a silver medal in fine jewellery making at the WorldSkills UK National Final in 2021 – clearly a young man whose skills will take him far!
Roger’s book is available for sale on this link where you can also view the whole book as a pdf (you don’t have to pay!). It is well worth indulging yourself by spending a bit of time enjoying the beautiful images.