Storyteller: Nick Hand

By Regina Connell.

There’s something about the world of craft that brings out the storyteller in people. (Obviously…) It’s the craftspeople, of course, and the beauty of the craft process itself, but there’s also the connection to something deeper: the need we all have to create, to express ourselves.

These storytellers are, of course, artisans themselves: the way in which the story’s told brings the work to life, making it transcend pure journalism. And we think it’s high time they got a little of the limelight.

Welcome to the new Handful of Salt series on the people who tell the stories and spread the word on the lives of people who work with their hands. Enjoy.

First up: Nick Hand, the Bristol, UK-based graphic artist and photographer behind the Slowcoast project. As his website says, in Summer of 2009, he rode his bike around the coast of Wales, England and Scotland. (In 2010 it was Ireland.) Alone the way he met and interviewed the artisans who lived on the coast and created what he calls “soundslides” of those interviews.

Image courtesy of It’s Nice

Artisans ranged from boat builders to hat makers to chefs to blacksmiths and flute makers. Old, young, master craftsmen, highly trained apprentices…Nick’s range is comprehensive but manageable, which fits with the ethos of the making way.

All good. But it’s the execution of this, the storytelling, that takes your breath away. (In my case, it was a hankie moment.) The “soundslides“–essentially long, languid and loving slideshows with a voiceover from the artisans are the perfect medium to telling this kind of story.

The Little Mesters of Sheffield from Nick Hand on Vimeo.

With the slightly slower pace, your eye gets to rest a little; you get to linger over the unusual equipment, materials or tools; you have time to trace the weatherbeaten face of an artisan; you get to breathe, and be, and wonder. And with the pace you listen more to the voices and thoughts and dreams of the artisans. They stick with you, which–after all– is the point, is it not?

Nick also created a book version of the Slowcoast project, called Conversations on the Coast (available only from his site, and from small indie bookstores in the UK). We’re not sure how he did it, but it creates the same feeling evoked by his site and soundslides.  Small in scope and small in size, it’s beautifully designed, a joy to unwrap and immerse yourself in. It’s an icon, an artifact, a new talisman…and a reminder that taking it slow is a form of grace we bring to ourselves, and to others.

Thanks, Nick.

Nick Hand, courtesy of Slowcoast



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