Pullens Yards were purpose-built for designer-makers in the late 1880s. The studios have housed craftspeople, working with their hands, for a hundred and twenty years. Unsurprisingly, over this length of time, what most of the crafts-people produce has evolved: at one time the Yards boasted lace makers, fan makers and cabinet makers; who have been replaced by today’s filmmakers, jewellers and artist potters. A few crafts have stayed, furniture designers and letterpress printers are here now, just as in the days of Queen Victoria.
Hannah Arendt wrote of “homo faber”, humans fully engaged in shaping the world around them, by actually producing that world with their hands. Making involves thinking about what you make, which amounts to careful thinking about everything that surrounds you. Thinking carefully about making, naturally results in made things that exhibit sensitivity, practicality and beauty.
Richard Sennett in his recent book “The Craftsman” puts it even more succinctly: “making is thinking”. Making anything necessarily involves “an intimate connec- tion between hand and head”. By making repeatedly you learn from materials and effects, and strive to find better ways of working. This striving unifies everyone in the Yards, no matter whether they make photographs, paintings, silver dogs, wooden chairs or musical instruments.
Sennett again: “craftsmanship names an enduring, basic human impulse, the desire to do a job well for its own sake”. This is a rare thing in our increasingly machine-made, genericised, that-will-do, cold-calling world. The Yards are a special place, come and see for yourself on an Open Studios weekend. These are twice a year: June and December