The workshop is where I keep in touch with old family skills.
I do so much of my best thinking in the woodwork-shop and forge, constantly being surprised at how making and repairing inanimate things complements and energises my work with people.
Some commissioned steel sculptures
At the forge -making dancing Woman
Dancing Woman 035
Anghorra Goat 05
Limited edition leather cover for "Desire Lines" 2008
We are the last repairers
Offspring of the boiler maker and worker of the loom
We are the men with workshops, sheds and shining tools
With drawers of springs, nuts and bolts measured by imperial rules.
We are the women with aprons and machines in workrooms
With drawers of buttons, threads, needles and scissors
Snowed on with sawdust, pricked with pins
Thumbs sore with the rubbing of making and mending broken things.
We are the sons of fathers, daughters of mothers
Who keep warm their tools and behind our workroom door
Carry on the craft, of those who went before.
We quietly glow when faced with a broken thing
It could be mended, we sense, we know
We have the very piece somewhere… and off we go
To our little boxes and our tins
Our dusty drawers that contain within
The “we might needs” we never threw away
Knowing they would “come in useful some day”.
Watch our pointing index fingers
Furtle through the tumbling, clinking things
Feeling between the parts, the remnants and the springs
Until we find that special piece, of:
Bakelite; wood; cloth; cork or metal there beneath.
Then our backs are bending, as we begin the mending
And silently as we work we whisper our refrain
“Do not despair, you came to us,
We can repair, you will work again”
And there are those of us, the special ones, who can
Do something many cannot understand.
We take a forgotten, unloved thing and turning it in our hands
Know with our fingers feeling, just how much of this, or that
Can bring about the healing.
We sense in some discarded things a stuttering life almost tragic
And having felt awhile take it to the bench to work our magic
Then warmed and soothed to life in our solid hands
We know the dumb clock can be repaired to tick-tock on
But accept a living thing once stopped has always gone.
We are the guardians of the awl
The spokeshave, chisel, tack and zip,
Button polish, bobbin, shuttle, pin and clip
Hinge, pliers, cramp, washer, punch and rivet
Our Pearl Glue bubbling on the forge’s trivet.
We Record the planes, set the saws and stone the chisel’s edge
Our hammers hang in ranks to serve from Pin to Sledge
We oil the spanners, drills and bores
We twist the taps and dies,
Draw out the hooks and eyes
And yes, we know what each is for.
And so the chosen piece is recut, reshaped,
Filed honed, and fettled.
Finally, it is thumb-pressed in and settled
Alive, in its new place to strengthen, lengthen, re-awaken.
We are the catalyst of a restoration,
The last repairers who, behind the workshop door,
Carry on the craft and work with love, our metaphor.
John Pearce "Desire Lines"
Poppy in copper & wood
Commission September 2021
Repair to antique balloon back chair 2021