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photos on a website such as Great In Britain leaves you with a similar feeling of pride. Depicted there are real people, with real lives doing all sorts of traditional skills. Many of them, as the website is clear to point out, are dying out. Photography is a way of immortalising their valiant efforts, in their own way being as important as the Royals in defining this great land we live in. The guy who carves traditional walking sticks, the steam train driver; not only is this all very important to us, it’s important to the rest of the world, it helps them understand who they are dealing with.


The website explains that it contains “photographs that celebrate the understated pride and passion of the often unsung working heroes that form the bedrock of this great nation. This gives us a fascinating insight into the world of work in Britain, chronicling the diversity of skills that exist in this country, as well as the great innovation and endeavour.” (and Jack Hargreaves would be chuffed to bits


78 | ukhandmade | Autumn 2011


to discover that Barbour sponsor it!) Some of these pastimes are dying out because people just aren’t interested any more, which is very sad. Some of them have ceased because they are deemed to be cruel. Perhaps not as sad to many – but all the same I think it’s good that there are photos showing hunts, dogs, horses and riders – because it’s part of our history. It wouldn’t be right to do what the Russians allegedly did and hide these images, after all!


And it doesn’t end there - with the ever-rampant development of the supermarket, traditional trades such as those Penn photographed – the butcher, the baker and yes even the candlestick maker - run the risk of suffering the same demise. In the same way that a family clings to photos of their children, photography can be utilised as a way of halting the ravages of time and so we as a nation can cling to the things that define us, set us apart and give us depth of character. And character is something every photographer


wants to see in his photos. That and huge beards, obviously.


There is another very important reason of course. Hundreds of years from now, every archaeologist working in every country, in every continent in the world will uncover the remains of Flat Screen TVs, Playstations, iPods, and GHD hair straighteners. Imagine the picture these items will paint of us! The website puts it thus: “greatinbritain. co.uk will become a unique resource, a visual time capsule that will build a legacy for the future”.


Photographs of people like the ones on Great In Britain may become the only thing that differentiates and sets us apart and tells our future selves, that we did more than just make ourselves pretty and play video games. Surely that in itself is reason enough.


For more information visit: www.greatinbritain.co.uk Images courtesy of Great in Britain


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