The morning drive was a doddle, 5 minutes down the road we met the oldest traceable family trade on our trip. Rowland wheelwrights have been producing in the same area since the 1300’s. We parked the landy up the drive and could see three people busy moving a loom. This particular loom dated back to the 1700’s and was a restoration job the wheelwrights had recently taken on. It was Mike who first noticed us and headed out to say hello. He was championing a styled moustache/goatee and marched through the open doors with the Royal Coat of Arms hanging high above the entrance and shook our hands introducing us to Greg his dad and young George his apprentice. He took us around the workshop past traditional carts, wooden wheels stacked or being assembled and cannons. We learnt how a traditional wheel is made and produced, the techniques needed, the materials used and the process involved. We felt so far away from the hustle and bustle of the city in this idyllic country setting surrounded by traditional tradesmen, original tools and natural materials... it felt great.
The afternoon visit combined traditional techniques with modern day technology. David Smith is a sign writer by trade but his designs are so unique that the lines are blurred between art and trade working both in pencil and on the computer. He built his studio in Torquay a few years ago and walking in you can’t help but smile, there is a mass of stunning mirrored sign pieces, hand etched framed artwork and glass engraving all lining the walls. The light bursts in from a skylight and bounces around the room off the gold leaf, mirrors and glass illuminating different visual delights everywhere you look. David reaches into a bookshelf and pulls out a vinyl cover he produced for John Mayer, it’s a blend of beautiful typography and flowing artwork creating a stunning hand rendered piece of art. The list of work produced for notable names is a long one from album covers for bands such as the Kings of Leon to bottle art for Jameson Whiskey, his more traditional sign work can be seen all over the UK especially the capital adorning London pubs and bars. This acclaim hasn’t affected his warm, welcoming personality, David is incredibly talented and very humble and we were lucky enough to share an afternoon with him finding out how he produces and why he produces the work he does.