So we have these young guys down with us for a week. They are staying in the village with Valarie and the idea is that we give them a free one week Basics Course and see what we see. Jon Greenwood is pretty good at this its the same weeks training we give to all our students at the start of their year here. Sharp tools, nice walnut, get it flat and square cut it up, join it, inlay it, polish it.
We watched how they all worked and behaved, did they listen, did they sweep up, did they put tools away sharp, and did they leave a tidy bench at the end of the day? All this is professional practice and important to us here at Rowden. Simple stuff, like putting cramps back in the right condition, in the right rack. Small workshops usually only have a few makers two or three is usual, five to ten at most. They need people who are, what was described to me once as “One of the Soldiers.” That is someone who is not hiding in the toilets when the timber lorry arrives. Someone who cleans down the machine they have just used and leaves it ready for the next person. Team player.
Then I called them in for a chat. Who were these guys? What was it that made them tick ? Who could be trusted to take this tool chest. I did not want to see it straight away on EBay . I gave them all a design brief to create a presentation drawing or model of a piece of furniture that they would like to make . They had the help of our Digital Artist and full access to CAD model making materials or watercolour materials. And they had a day to do it. Next day they showed me drawings and models . All three had good ideas, and all presented them well. But Katherine had an idea beautifully presented that really was worth making.
The decision was mine and a process of selection was coming together as the week went on. But it was in the end an easy choice . We had a clear winner in Katherine and I was delighted to find that everyone in the workshop seemed to support that view.
I find it hard to give firm reasons for why without appearing to criticise the two runners up. They all did the making exercises well and behaved well in the workshop. It became clear as we went on that one of these guys had a lot more experience having had a trade school training in Belgium . He was also well supported by his parents and had a good basis upon which to build a workshop and reputation. The other guy was different again coming from a science background he was on a design masters course in Bristol. Making I don’t believe was really in his bag .
Katherine however was a grafter, and I like grafters. People who put their whole selves into what they do . She along with a lot of people i meet and teach had a terrible Art School experience. Doing a three year degree in Illustration at Brighton would you might assume want you to learn to draw. No, not a bit of it. Here the Conceptual Art Orthodoxy is rooted deep. Do NOT learn to draw, that would make me feel small (because I never learnt at Art School when I was in your place. And its not really necessary just take a photo. ) No. Just think and talk big. This to me, beggars belief and makes me really mad. Having gone through that mincer, being a tough cookie, and wanting to MAKE she ended up with an joiner part time employer with a workshop who can help with some work and some skills ( he was the dude who put her forward, thank you very much) Katherine also works part time I believe at Marks and Spencers to help pay the bills.
The tools will be safe in Katherines hands, I don’t expect to see them on E bay in the coming months, that deals with the tools, Now we need to give her skills, we will I hope be able to find a sponsor to pay for a three month course here at Rowden to build upon where Katherine is now. Will you help her ?? Yes you £500 from ten of you would get this done. She deserves you support. Contact me if you can help Katherine