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On Alienation

I have worked in many roles, from apprentice through to director, in a number of different professional fields, from engineering, youth work, drug rehabilitation and more recently policy related research.

One thing that connects them all is the need to learn how to do them. Another common aspect, except perhaps woodturning in some important way, is that the product or outcome of the work is directed by others; it is undertaken on behalf of others. If a lift doesn't work, if youths continue to misbehave or drug users continue to use, those that pay for the service get scratchy. This feedback, where clients determine the what, how, when of any commission can be simultaneously crucial and undermining.

Undermining because much of what is learnt in the process of developing new skills and ideas relates to our knowledge of ourselves, not the 'thing' that we are trying to do at all. Despite this reality, very little of the learning ever makes it into a final report or account of events.

My approach to woodturning is different from this; I seek out the moments when I am forced to learn something new about myself, when my technique is not good enough, when my ideas aren't clear enough. In this sense, everything that I make, reflects the state of my art at any moment. Bowls turn out not to simply contain salad, fruit or front door keys, or even the labour invested in its production, but also the philosophical, technical and emotional state of their makers?

On Markets

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