Frankly, The Folksy Magazine

Slow Coast

by Emily. Average Reading Time: about 2 minutes.


A few years ago, on his annual cycling holiday in Cornwall, graphic designer and photographer Nick Hand started thinking about cycling around the coast of Britain. Once he’d said it out loud, he felt obliged to do it and so in the summer of 2009 he set off with the knowledge that, if he kept the sea on his left, he’d eventually get back to where he started.

This story takes on a life of it’s own when you discover the amazing, inspiring and downright lovely people he met along the way. From a weaver, to a boat builder, a stickmaker to a screen printer, a cheese maker to a tea taster, Nick popped in on over 100 coastal artisans as part of his 6324 mile journey.

Douglas Grierson
Douglas Grierson - Weaver
Kay Anderson - Spinner
Kay Anderson - Spinner

Every meeting began with Nick recording their conversation, then taking a series of beautiful photographs of the artist, their tools and their surroundings. In the evening, he’d edit his recordings and pictures into little photo films he called “soundslides” and upload them to his Slowcoast website. It’s amazing what you can do from the back of a bicycle.

Paul F Kelly - Gold and Silversmith
Paul F Kelly - Gold and Silversmith
Will Brown - Outfitter
Will Brown - Outfitter

His new book ‘Conversations on the Coast’ features 20 of these beautiful stories and photographs in print. The entire collection of 113 “soundslides” can be found on his website, Slowcoast. I’ve watched the vast majority of them over the past 2 weeks (I’m a sucker for that kind of thing..) and have finally managed to whittle them down to my favourite four to share with you here. At no more than 5mins long each, these films make the perfect little break to your working day………

Zoe Murphy – Printed furniture and textiles – a graduate from Margate whose passion and enthusiasm for her surroundings and her art is infectious.

Bill Bontoft – Stickmaker – a traditional craft by a traditional craftsman. You won’t forget Bill.

Keira Rathbone – Typewriter art – a fascinating practice that I’d love to have a go at. I’ll warn you though, Keira makes it look VERY easy.

Miles Tea & Coffee Merchants – a wonderfully geeky tea taster.

Nick is planning more for the Photofilm Series including: Blacksmiths, Printmakers and Goldsmiths so it would be worth keeping your eye on his “proper job” website The Department of Small Works. Some of the new photofilms were shot during his time on the judging panel of the Balvenie Master of Crafts Awards. I’ll be keeping my eye on future projects from Nick and if I hear he’s off on that bike again I’m likely to try and squeeze on the back. Sorry Nick.