Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Libby Purves on making stuff

I have long been a fan of Libby Purves, midweek presenter, author and Times columnist.

This article I just came across written in the Times on 27th July really struck a cord.

Full article here, http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/libby_purves/article6728120.ece

Here are a few extracts.

"To feel good about your work, as an individual and a society, to be
both emotionally satisfied and economically safe, you have to make
stuff. Put things together, improve them, sell them to admiring
customers. Ask any caveman rolling his first wheel; ask any small
child trotting home from school with an eggbox model. Then ask the
same child ten years later how satisfied he or she is with what passes
for physical creativity in the modern risk-averse classroom: the
desktop-published folder of design and technology, chronicling a
project never actually made; the “food-tech” folder with cutout
pictures of flans and lists of cooking temperatures, which somehow
never led to an actual pizza."

Mr Reece speaks to my soul. Just as Tony Benn did in 1990, when he
said that Thatcher’s Britain had “an utter contempt for skill. If one
talks to people who dig coal and drive trains, or to doctors, nurses,
dentists or tool-makers, one discovers that no one in Britain is
interested in them. The whole of the so-called entrepreneurial society
is focused on the City news that we get in every bulletin ... Skill is
what built this country’s strength, but it has been treated with

"No, to hell with avatars and iPhone apps — bring back the moving
parts, the beauty of machinery; bring it to every level of education
and national awareness; celebrate makers, enthuse a generation to
solid creativity."


  1. Just came across your blog, it takes me home! My father is a retired carpenter and its so good to see skilled craftsmen still going!
    Every year we go to the Wood Fair at Bentley (sussex) and its simply heaven, the skills, smell and tools.

  2. I agree, i agree.
    I get satisfaction from making stuff. Solving problems with real stuff rather than abstract vicarious situations.
    You should also take a look at "Shopclass as Soulcraft".
    But I think we are all on the same page anyway being into "making stuff".

  3. Good article, I think it is important to have a direct link between the person or people who create and buy, whatever size or scale of manufacture. Society became a poorer place when we lost this connection between maker and user.

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