I have been working with images of hands in my ceramics and drawing. I think this is about the loss of manual and handcraft based employment particularly among men in the last several decades. So hands begin to signify all the things they used to make and all the sense of pride and purpose that we used to derive from working directly with materials. Through the tools held in our hands we worked forming materials into useful (or otherwise valuable) objects.

So it seems important to value our hands and the extraordinary ways we can control them and manipulate things in the material world. This is highlighted by all the rapid changes occurring every day through new technology. If we are going to let a lot of handwork skills go let us at least be aware of it and think about holding on to some of them where we can.

Leather hard clay hand made by hand by Simon FellOne of my handmade hand sculptures, approx 20 cm w

Clay hand sculpture by Simon Fell in the leather hard stateA hand sculpture in the leather hard state

I think this kind of work is now becoming mythologised. People who can still do work with their hands are becoming stars of social media and tv. So the practical skills evolve into something you are as likely to see on tv as to actually do. How many people watch dancing and baking compared to the numbers that actually participate? It is very strange seeing this kind of change during your own lifetime. It’s not that it’s not like the old days, nostalgia really is not my cup of tea but I think it is only human to be dismayed by both the rate of change and the sheer oddity of the directions it takes.