In 2009, Nick Hand set off on a journey from his hometown of Bristol to cycle – clockwise – around the British coastline. Along the way he recorded conversations with artisans and craftsmen, and in doing so he created a valuable document of locality, craft and custom. Nick calls them, ‘soundslides’, and they are archived on his blog, Slowcoast.
Nick told the story of his journey in our book, On Nature and now he has collected a selection of portraits of those he met in a beautifully made book called, Conversations on the Coast:
A new book, Conversations on the Coast, was published on 14 September 2011. The book features photography and interviews with artists and craftspeople from around the coast of the British Isles – all made by Nick Hand during a 6,000-mile cycle journey. The featured craftspeople include a weaver, boat builder, a stick maker, a sculptor, a hat maker, a bicycle mechanic, an animator and typewriter artist.
Nick Hand recorded over 100 interviews in total while he was on a cycle journey around the coast of the British Isles. “Spending five months on a bicycle gave me all the benefits of travelling slowly and along the way I met some amazing people — artisans, artists and craftspeople,” he says. “Somehow turning up on a bike opens a few more doors and people seem a bit happier to have a natter. I would record the conversation first, and then spend some time photographing the person, their workspace, their tools, and the surroundings.”
Nick Hand’s interviews were featured on the Slowcoast website as photofilms, giving followers of the journey the chance to meet an inspirational group of people living and working around the coast of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
The book Conversations on the Coast presents a selection of 20 stories from the project and has a foreword written by the designer Paul Smith.
“What I love most about this book is the humility of actually quite ordinary artisans chosen by chance as they came into focus on one man’s remarkable journey around the coast. What we learn is that when you take the time to look, even the apparently straight forward lives of a bicycle repairer, hat maker or basket weaver are driven by passion and a deep seated love for their work. It is inspirational.”
Robin Wood, Chair of The Heritage Crafts Association
Conversations on the Coast will appeal to people with an interest in traditional and modern crafts, travel, cycling, the ‘slow’ movement, British culture, regional culture as well as any of the specific skills featured in the book such as stone letter carving, basket making or spinning.
The book is published by The Department of Small Works. £1 from the sale of each book will be donated to Parkinson’s UK. The project to date has