Monday, 10 December 2012
Now the main project has come to an end, we thought it best to make a comprehensive website, expanding on the field frames shown on this blog. The Small is Beautiful? project has grown into A Celebration of Repair. Schumacher's adage had gradually become a little inappropriate somehow, and it seems apt–now that the research project has finished–for the work to have a more conclusive and positive title.
So on the site you can find much more material on the places we visited, the people involved, and the exhibitions and other output that we've produced from this body of work. Hopefully it will be a resource that people will enjoy visiting and could potentially lead to new and interesting avenues for us to explore. Do let us know what you think of the new site and stay in touch. Let's keep on mending!
Wednesday, 24 October 2012
"It's an emotional thing," says Cooper, whose family has been in the business for four generations.
"The piano is like a form of expression, and all of a sudden, you're dealing in a strange situation.
"All those pianos had somebody happy at some time. All those pianos did that. They really don't owe us anything.
"People were happy, even if only for a moment. Did the piano smile?" he asks. "I don't know - it might have."
Tuesday, 16 October 2012
Thursday, 20 September 2012
Sunday, 1 July 2012
Friday, 29 June 2012
Currently, the SiB travelling show finds itself in the middle of the Lake District at the inaugural Mend*rs Symposium. A wonderful affair; every far view yields green valleys and hills, and every view closer to hand is someone busying themselves with mending or fixing or tinkering with things - laptops included inevitably.
It will be very interesting to hear all the other speakers (and they've come far and wide to be here - Italians, Swiss, Irish, Americans, Spanish) and it will be good to share our little project with them, and point them to the new Small is Beautiful website. It's not quite finished, but hopefully gives a pretty good overview of the project.
Wednesday, 9 May 2012
"With the movement into cities of the U.S. population, and much of the rest of the world’s people, we have had a massive de-skilling in how to do practical tasks. When I was a boy in the country, all of us knew how to build a tree house, or construct a small hut, or raise chickens, or grow beans, or screw pipes together to deliver water. It was a sexist world, of course, so when some of my chums in eighth grade said we wanted to learn girls’ “home ec” skills like making bread or boiling eggs, the teachers were shocked, but we got to do it. There was widespread competence in fixing things -- impossible with most modern contrivances, of course, but still reasonable for the basic tools of survival: pots and pans, bicycles, quilts, tents, storage boxes.
We all need to learn, or relearn, how we would keep the rudiments of life going if there were no paid specialists around, or means to pay them. Every child should learn elementary carpentry, from layout and sawing to driving nails. Everybody should know how to chop wood safely, and build a fire. Everybody should know what to do if dangers appear from fire, flood, electric wires down, and the like. Taking care of each other is one practical step at a time, most of them requiring help from at least one other person; survival is a team sport."
Friday, 20 April 2012
The workshop went well, the exhibition looked good, and best of all lots of interesting and interested people came together to discuss makers, menders and their materials. (I've put a personal take on the event on my own blog, here.)
We're currently working hard on getting a website up and running which will showcase the weekend gathering, the Exeter exhibition and many of the photographs from the duration of the project. Shouldn't be long now...
Wednesday, 4 April 2012
Friday, 23 March 2012
The gallery is located in the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies on the University of Exeter Streatham Campus (number 16 on the campus map, available here). From 11-25 April the gallery will be open 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.
Thursday, 22 March 2012
Thursday, 8 March 2012
Site: Jessica Rance Woodwind Instrument Repairs
Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Monday, 27 February 2012
Thursday, 23 February 2012
Friday, 17 February 2012
Location: East Budleigh, Devon
Date: 30 January 2012
SiB team: SB and CD
Thursday, 16 February 2012
We've recently been alerted to the existence of a growing 'hackspace' movement in the UK. Here's the mission statement for the Bristol group: "Bristol Hackspace is a social enterprise which aims to open up technology to anybody who takes an interest in it. We want to ‘open’ technology both in the sense of taking things apart to learn how they work, and how to mend or adapt them; and in the sense of sharing the knowledge we gain from doing so."
Site: Bath Typewriter Service
Location: Cynthia Road, Bath
Date: 5 December 2011
SiB team: JR and SB
Image: Work station
Bath Typewriter Service sits in a narrow building tacked on the end of a terrace of sandstone houses. Bill Collett has inhabited this workspace for more than three decades, servicing and mending typewriters as well as fax, adding and dictation machines of all shapes and sizes. His main work station consists of three long desks, made by his father from three salvaged school blackboards. He used to work here with two colleagues, but their desks are no longer occupied. Bill works alone at the desk furthest from the door in a space resembling a homemade aircraft cockpit, where every implement, machine or tool is arranged within easy reach.
Machines once full of words and messages are now silent. The mechanical writing and recording machines of the past have been replaced with digital technologies, which are designed neither for servicing or repair. Much of Mr Collett’s workshop is now taken up with old but perfectly operating machines which, rather than maintaining, he is breaking up into their constituent elements for scrap value; repair in reverse. Shelves that once held working machines now struggle under the weight of assorted aluminium, steel and plastic. A lucky few, the most beautiful or rare, find a home with appreciative collectors. Many others sit on shelves, their fate undecided. It would be wrong not to honour them by at least taking their photograph.
Wednesday, 25 January 2012
Another kindred spirit:
"Futuremenders is fun and deadly serious art activism. It sidesteps the traditional art world, cutting to the real business of art in an age of crisis – to futureproof our lives. It prepares us for barely imaginable but plausible futures where forgotten skills are vital for survival. Futuremenders is the lifelong project of UK artist Jonnet Middleton who took a pledge in 2008 to acquire no more clothes, ever. The monumental scale of the Futuremenders mission is to subvert our addiction to short-term shopping by spreading the joy of making and mending together."
Wednesday, 18 January 2012
"The Object Ethnography Project investigates how objects accumulate stories as they move from one life to another. We are looking for donations of objects—any kind of object—and the stories that come with them. Members of the public will then adopt these objects during a week-long event in March, 2012. Participants will explain how they will use their adopted object in its new life before they take it home. Each story will be recorded, and the final online exhibit will include a photograph of the object, biography, and its adoption story."
Monday, 19 December 2011
Wonderful series here from photographer Chris Coekin. Staging the shots in a Russian constructivist style is certainly an interesting take on a well trodden path (which we tread too, of course).
Photograph above: © Chris Coekin
Friday, 16 December 2011
Location: South Molton,Devon
Date: 30 November 2011
SiB Team: CD and SB
Farley Water, Hawkridge Ridge, Halscombe, Whiterocks, Veraby Brake, Venfield Common. An Exmoor geography dangles from each antler, marked on a neat white tag. The stags drop their antlers in March and April, and Michael Fook tries to be there to retrieve them. He can tell the stags apart, and recognise the distinctive patterning of each individual’s antler structure from year to year. If only one antler is dropped he will wait, and search for the missing mate. Sometime he finds it miles away, and once he swapped with a local acquaintance years later to make two matched sets.
The antlers return, in pairs and singly, to Michael’s shop in South Molton, Devon. In the front of the shop a dozen prime specimens are mounted (on fibreglass skulls) around the walls, sharing space with spare bicycle tyres and rims. More cluster around the edges of the floor space, the handlebars of parked bicycles echoing the antler forms to odd effect. In the high-ceilinged workshop at the back antlers hang above the strimmers and mowers in for repair. And in the attic, up a steep flight of stairs and through a hatch door, the dim light discloses more antlers, in serried rows alongside boxes of spare engines and salvaged parts.
Wednesday, 14 December 2011
In 1960, the Chevrolet division of General Motors and the Handy (Jam) Organization produced American Maker a half-hour film about craftsmanship, creativity and how Americans build. More than a mere vehicle of patriotic propaganda, the film is beautifully shot and offers stunning footage of life and work in that era for a fascinating cultural contrast to the “Swinging London” of the 1960, going on at the same time across the pond.
Apt for quite a few reasons, here's something very interesting that our ever-discerning friend Jestonbury came across.
Tuesday, 13 December 2011
Monday, 5 December 2011
Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Sunday, 27 November 2011
Thursday, 24 November 2011
Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Although our association with his ideas goes only go so far, E.F. Schumacher, and his famous tome, is always going to be a touchstone for our project. Following on from our April post on the topic, here is a thoroughly interesting look at him and his work in the context of the state of the UK's current political notions. Fascinating.
Thursday, 10 November 2011
Monday, 26 September 2011
Saturday, 17 September 2011
SiB has been resting this summer, but we're about to kick off again with an exhibition at the Bridport Arts Centre. Please join us on Friday, 23 September, for a free-ranging chat with the project team and participating mender/makers.
Wednesday, 20 July 2011
This photo of blacksmith Steve Willdig (Field Frame # 2 ) by R. J. Whittick won first prize in a 'Dorset Eye' competition in 1985. Steve shared it with me when I visited a couple of weeks ago. Steve's isn't the first business to have drawn the eye of another photographer--about half of the places we've visited have been previously documented. The attraction, apparently, is mutual.
Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Monday, 27 June 2011
The box of white gloves just happened to be lying about in the new South West Image Bank gallery space when we hung the exhibition last week. Usually SWIB's volunteers wear them while handling fragile historic photographs in the archive, but last week we borrowed them to place the aluminium-mounted images on their bespoke aluminium ledges. And then, during Friday evening's reception, many of the 40 or so guests wore them as well--photographs were touched, and appreciated as objects. For the next few weeks (until July 22) you too can touch the photographs, at 25 The Parade, in the Plymouth Barbican, weekdays from 9:30-4:30. Let us know what you think.
Thursday, 9 June 2011
The couple’s decisions about what to collect are more deliberate than they might seem. “It’s an aesthetic decision,” Ms. Stevenson said. “If it appeals to my eye or my mind, it’s a keeper.” They revel in giving a home to unloved objects, possessions that were once dear to someone and then discarded. “To some people this would be ugly,” Ms. Meyer said. “But to other people, this is kind of earthy and lush.”
Friday, 3 June 2011
Site: Star Shoe Repairs
Location: 2 Falmouth Road, Redruth, Cornwall
Date: 11 April 2011
SiB Team: JR and SB
Image: Wren’s shoe polish display case and assorted shoe repair items
Steve didn’t have his best camera with him when we visited Star Shoe Repairs, but his eye was as sharp as ever and the resulting photographs do a beautiful job of evoking a rich working space. In particular they seem to respond neatly to the way this place invites one to pay close attention to details and, above all, to look at things differently: a large pair of scissors secured to back of the side of the worktop by an improvised leather holster; the wire brush drill-bit resting on a shelf; racks of keys and metal cutting blades pinned to a wooden panels; a stripy window display of handmade leather belts; a women’s shoe secured in a home-made heel-clamp. There is so much to look at in this place that it is hard to remember all the details; the photographs show things I had noticed and forgotten, but also things I’d not seen at all. I had spotted the wooden display rack for ‘Wren’s super-wax shoe polish’, with its gold-lettered strap-line: ‘Keeps Shoes Supple’, for example, which resonates with a sense of old-fashioned quality and craftsmanship that permeates everything in Star. But I’d not appreciated the quality of its setting against the pink paintwork, alongside a lonely single shoe, a roll of cotton, and assorted leather bits and bobs, on a high shelf in the corner of the workshop. The photograph conjures up a miniaturised landscape; the wooden sign resembling some mid-twentieth-century wayside advert set in jumbled ground and bathed in the evening glow of a permanently setting fluorescent-light-bulb-sun. Such aesthetic games are of course an effect of the frame imposed by the camera’s operator. But the invitation to play with a sense of scale and perspective comes also from the multi-sensory and visually fecund quality of such workplaces, with their abundance of juxtapositions and associations of shapes, textures, colours and objects.
Saturday, 28 May 2011
Monday, 23 May 2011
Friday, 20 May 2011
Monday, 16 May 2011
We recently spent a Saturday on the banks of the River Fowey building a coracle frame out of hazel rods, inner tubes and baling twine. Now the finished article is sitting in our back garden waiting patiently for its covering of canvas and roof paint. Polwheveral Creek launch date TBC.