Most craft books start by selecting the best, the last, the most famous craftspeople in each trade, this produces a particular type of book that has it's place but it has been done many times. How would it be if instead you selected a bunch of artisans at random, say by cycling round the coast of the British Isles and interviewing and photographing folk you met along the way?
That's was Nick Hand's idea and the results are wonderful. 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.
The book is a joy and you can see thoughtfulness and passion in every aspect of it. I have no idea how Nick conducted his interviews but the folk open up in a deep and meaningful way and share the inner drive that makes them do what they do. Nick would say it is the bicycle that wins folk over, I guess when someone has ridden 1500 miles to your door you recognise the fellow dedication and that empathy comes through the pages. As you would expect from a top photojournalist the images are sublime.
It would have been easy to publish this as a coffee table book with big glossy pages printed cheaply in China, instead it is a small book printed on FSC paper made in the UK and printed and bound in Wales. It's difficult to spot just why it works but it has that lovely quality of the original Beatrix Potter books, I guess it is loving attention to detail, caring, craftsmanship.
I would really very highly recommend it as gift to yourself or a friend. Just £14 or £16.50 inc P&P, a few clicks and you can use Paypal if you like. Here is the link to the order page.
Oh yes and £1 of every sale goes to Parkinson's UK