Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Working Artisans' Club 2013: What We Learned - Huck

Review of Huck's Working Artisans' Club exhibition
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Huck's super Working Artisans' Club exhibition at 71a closes today. Time to cast our eyes back over everything the artisans have taught us.

If you haven't made it down to 71a to check out Huck's awesome Working Artisans' Club exhibition yet, what have you been doing with yourself? Get your skate on, and get down to Leonard Street! Today is your last chance to see our artisans' creations in the flesh and marvel at their skill in shaping wood, neoprene and… wellies.

The Working Artisans' Club grew from a desire to celebrate the modern day craftsmen and women who are paddling against the tide of mass-produced conformity to remind the world of the value of the handmade. As the exhibition draws to a close, Huck thought it was high-time to cast our eyes back over the last six months and see what lessons we can all draw from these incredible displays of craftsmanship.

Lesson 1: Listen to the Shaman


Joe Lauder's experiences in the Amazon were a crucial stage in the thought process that led to the birth of Satta Skates. For a month Joe lived with a Shaman who taught him about the medicinal properties of jungle plants and their immense power to improve lives. When he returned to London, he knew "whatever I did, I wanted to work with nature. It seems futile not to."

Lesson 2: Cultivate a Vibe


The secret of Lovenskate's quality product and astounding success comes from one source: their vibe. Stu Smith has his finger right on what makes it unique, "a continuous process of bowl-shralping, street-ripping, wanderlusting, ink-blending, curb-waxing, gnar-shredding, DIY-or-dieing, scene-supporting, quality-product-guaranteeeing, slappy-nose-sliding, stair-jumping, team-builiding, 'zine living, loving and skating." After seeing the love that goes into every deck, tee, mug, sticker, and 'zine that lovenskate print we can't argue with Stu.

Lesson 3: Be Your Own Boss


Cornwall is no California. Great breaks come sporadically and good surf is by no means guaranteed. When there's awesome swell, Elsie Pinniger of Neon Wetsuits just wants to drop everything in her Newquay workshop and paddle out. So she does! "People definitely just wanna be able to go surfing when they want and not work all day - so they make it happen! I mean, I'd really struggle to go back to working for someone else now because when the surf's good I can be really flexible work-wise."

Lesson 4: Cherish Relationships


Expanded Eye are a duo of tattoo artists made up of Jade Tomlinson and Kev James. But this is more than just a working relationship, the pair have been a couple for 12 years. As Jade says, "Our art is our life. It couldn't work any other way. Being in a relationship and having to devote as much time as we do to our art, it wouldn't work any other way." Over the years they have merged to create one unique style and approach. But, as Kev cautions: "It's not always a smooth ride."

Lesson 5: Knives Are Not Always Bad


In an urban setting, any mention of knives always evokes negative connotations: crime, gangs and stabbings. But for Andrew Groves, in his forest cabin among the 150-year-old oaks of West Sussex, the blade he crafted with his father holds an entirely different meaning. "A knife is not a weapon for me, it's just a creative tool, no different than a paintbrush," he says. Indeed, the wooden creations he hand crafts as Miscellaneous Adventures are stunning works of art in their own right.

Lesson 6: Don't Throw Out Those Old Wellies


Queens of wearable up cycling, Ali Goodman and Franki Baseley "love traditional military and workwear clothing. They're such good examples of innovation and craft-so durable and utilitarian but never over-designed. They only get better with time." As Francli, the pair have turned everything from wellies to tents abandoned after this year's Glastonbury Festival into totally rad but functional apparel that's made to stand the test of time.

Over the last six months Huck have been championing hand made creativity through the Working Artisans' Club, a celebration of Jack O'Neill's legacy of craftsmanship.

Friday September 27, 9am-5pm, is your last chance to catch the exhibition at our 71a Gallery, Leonard Street, Shoreditch, EC2A 4QS. You can read more about the artisans in the latest issue, HUCK 40 – The Cat Power Issue.

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