Craftsmen and happiness?

In Dulwich OnView, happiness, new content on August 25, 2009 at 8:08 am

A few weeks ago I went to Peckham to meet a craft artist called Nic Webb.

He’s been working recently with a huge pile of wood from Dulwich Picture Gallery. The swamp cypress tree there was cut down last year because it was sick. He’s been turning the wood into, wait for it, spoons. So off I trundled to meet the spoon man. And here’s the result – an article on Dulwich OnView.

These aren’t any ordinary spoons. They’re beautifully crafted pieces, all very individual. Meeting Nic was a wake up call to the power of the craft maker movement in London at the moment. He spoke about how the design for each spoon is led by the natural shapes and patterns in the wood – there’s no one design he works toward. Each piece is an individual.

We’re bored nowadays of having mass-produced rubbish in our homes from Habitat. Let’s go back to having hand-crafted, beautiful objects with some integrity. And let’s get to know the people who make these things for us – craftsmen, designers and makers all have great stories behind them and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know some of them of late. I wrote pieces recently about glass designer Sue King and local artist Gail Gosschalk.

I think there’s a bit of an overlap with my happiness project. I suggest we’d all be happier if we fill our homes with objects that have some integrity to them, rather than flat pack furniture and cheap crap from Ikea. Of course, that’s easier said than done – hand-crafted items are usually comparatively expensive. But meeting Nic and talking with him about his work certainly made me appreciate the power of the craftsman once again and I believe it’s a movement worth supporting.

I’m going to look for craft artists to include in the happiness project. Let me know if you have any good suggestions.

  1. I have just come across your blog in a serendipitous way via looking up Grayson Perry and museum collaborations for something I am currently working on at Manchester Art Gallery. But reading your blog, I thought you might be interested in something else we’re working on here: delving into the life and collection of Mary Greg – a remarkable woman whose collection of ‘handicrafts of bygone times’ has been in storage for over 50 years. Working with artists from MMU, we have been exploring her collection and legacy and have discovered some fabulous things. And it is certainly a project that keeps us all happy. Do have a look and leave a comment on our project blog at

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