PUBLISHED: 09:00 17 February 2014
Tradtional mending and repair businesses in the county feature in a fascinating new book
"We met some remarkable people, who were unfailingly generous in sharing their knowledge and their workplaces."
In a world of ubiquitous, corporate shopping malls and High Streets they stand out as a beacon of hope – the traditional menders and repair shops tucked away in our communities and still offering the dedication and skills they have done for so many years.
Their increasing rarity makes them treasure troves of fascination for those who delight in both the difference their presence brings and the visual distinction they offer.
And that distinctiveness has now been recognised in a wonderful picture-driven book which seeks to record some of the finest examples of such shops in the South West.
Visible Mending: Everyday Repairs in the South West documents the work of Dr Caitlin DeSilvey, a Senior Lecturer and member of Exeter University’s Environment and Sustainability Institute, and Dr James Ryan, Associate Professor of Historical and Cultural Geography, who were joined on the project by local designer and photographer Steven Bond.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Small is Beautiful? research project used visual methods to explore the South West’s small-scale repair industries, including cobblers, tailors, blacksmiths and bookbinders.
The project investigated the aesthetics of the workplaces and their place in modern-day life. The book documents the project in a series of photographs and short essays featuring 20 regional businesses.
In Devon eight such premises are featured - Cane Corner, East Budleigh; Honiton Clock Clinic; The Cycle Centre, Barnstaple; Michael Fook Small Engine and Bicycle Repair, South Molton; Helen Warren Porcelain Repair, Budleigh Salterton; The Tool Box, Colyton; New Life Upholstery, Barnstaple, and Jessica Rance Woodwind Instrument Repairs, Thornmoor Cross.
Beautifully detailed photographs are accompanied by evocative text on the origins of the business and its methods, making this a fascinating and valuable study of the county’s living history.
Dr DeSilvey says: “Through this project we met some remarkable people, who were unfailingly generous in sharing their knowledge and their workplaces with us. This book shares the spirit of the research with a broader audience, and Steven’s photographs provide a fascinating record of the repair and mending trades in the region.”
Copies of Visible Mending: Everyday Repairs in the South West are available in regional Waterstones branches or can be ordered from the Uniformbooks website: uniformbooks.co.uk