The creation of photographer Peter Barker, ‘Working Hands’ is a series of photographs which show how hand and mind are linked in skilled work, from bookbinding to sheepshearing, from hat making to dog grooming. The photographs suggest a connection between inner and outer worlds, between body and mind, and between thinking and doing.
Manchester-based Peter Barker is a photographer and writer who spent thirty years living in Beverley and has himself had a fascinating array of occupations, from being a former Hull Town Clerk and a diplomat in Iran and Afghanistan, to being a yoga teacher, French translator and charity worker in Russia.
“I wanted to make this series of photographs for two reasons. The first is that I myself get great satisfaction from making and repairing things and I wanted to pursue that photographically. The second reason is that there is a dignity in manual occupations, which I think is often overlooked and should be celebrated.”
The exhibition, which opens with a special preview on Saturday 10 November, features some well-known East Yorkshire faces. Beverley based violin maker Peter Hall, bookbinder Colin Tatman and baker Liz Parkin all make an appearance.
Each uses age old and specialised craft-based skills which are still very much in demand even in the present age of mechanical and digital manufacturing.
“Post Western industrialisation, organised manual work tended to become mechanical and unrewarding. In our digital era, the development of artificial intelligence, robots and the virtual world appear to signal not only a further downgrading of manual skills but their complete disappearance.”
“Fortunately, I believe, we will always have an innate desire to work with our own hands rather than to be wholly machine dependent. This exhibition is my tribute to all those occupations that require body-mind coordination and which use the hands to create a direct response to what the mind sees.”