April 24, 2012 § 5 Comments
Today was my first full(-ish) day in the new workshop and what a joy it was to be working in there. Space, it is a wonderful thing. It is only being in the new workshop that I realise quite how cramped it was in the cellar.
I have put fabric up in the windows to create a little bit of privacy and in the two times that I have worked in there previously I left it up. Today I felt that it would be nice to have some natural light, so I lifted the fabric off one of the windows. My workshop is in the centre of Shipley, so the window looks right onto the street, which meant that passers-by could see me and watch me work.
At first, I was a bit reticent about being ‘exposed’ like that but immediately it was a fantastic experience. The first couple to walk by stopped and asked if they could come in. They were an elderly couple, who volunteered in the charity shop next door. We had a lovely chat. Then three women came in and asked if they could have a go. They also asked if I could make some bowls for them and said that they thought they might be better than the ones in Asda. So many people stopped at the window and every one was smiling. With a bit of lip-reading, ‘Wow, look at that’ seemed to be a common refrain.
Things being made by hand is not part of most people’s lives, let alone seeing things actually being made. It is unusual to see the production of objects while you are going about doing your daily shopping. To me, this is tremendously exciting. It’s not object making as part of the tourist trail, as exotica, as a curiosity that you bring back from a holiday as a souvenir. This is object making experienced within one’s own community, within an urban community, and it is this visibility that appeals to me. It is the witnessing of the making process that takes away its mystique, that makes it ‘normal’, accessible, a part of people’s everyday lives.
There is the kernel of a plan there – urban workshops, visible workshops, workshops in the heart of the community.