David Kindersley strongly believed that the mysteries of his and other crafts should be passed on to future generations, and that it was the practitioner's duty to see that this happened. Over the years since the 1940s some 50 apprentices have been trained to carve letters in stone at David Kindersley's Workshop and at its successor the Cardozo Kindersley Workshop; the demand by a discerning public for hand-carved inscriptions is ever increasing.
As well as training apprentices, David in his lifetime, and Lida - his apprentice, partner and wife - have spread the word of letter-cutting through lectures, workshops and exhibitions.
The foreword of the book by HRH The Prince of Wales
In his Essay on Typography, written in the 1930s, Eric Gill observed that "tho' industrialism has now won an almost complete victory, the handicrafts are not killed and they cannot be quite killed because they meet an inherent, indestructible, permanent need in human nature". In this, Gill articulated the essential truth at the heart of the human artistic endeavour: the unique and mysterious need of human beings to satisfy emotional and spiritual urges.
The pleasure derived in the making of an object is partly attributed to the enjoyment and admiration engendered in others. One only has to think of art - pure art transcends pure function. If, therefore, the goal of a true craftsman is to give pleasure in his art, then the question must be how does the craftsman achieve his goal?
A machine is not capable of giving the pleasure of a craftsman as machines produce functional objects. While in and of themselves they may be beautiful, they lack the essential essence of individuality - dare one say, personality? A craftsman taking up his tool will always produce something unique; and craftsmen cannot be manufactured.
What is important in the realm of craftsmen is the system of apprenticeship. It is this which allows for the subtle imparting of centuries' worth of knowledge from master to student.
The efficiency of this technique relies upon the very basis by which a baby learns to communicate - by imitating its parents. Similarly with craftsmen, directly imitating the master is likely to instil a good work ethic by the nature of the responsibility taken on by the apprentice; and the close contact with highly skilled work is essential to understanding the minute intrica¬cies involved in the skill or craft. In such an environment of encouragement the apprentice is able to learn by doing the job, through his or her personal experience.
I have long felt that one of the great tragedies of the latter half of the Twentieth Century has been the loss - and indeed, the denigration - of so many of the skilled trades in this country. The whole concept of apprenticeship has been discouraged or abandoned, with the, by now, obvious and disastrous consequences for so many aspects of our lives. Indeed, through my work with The Prince's Trust over the last twenty seven years I began to realize that large numbers of alienated and disaffected young people are probably psychologically frustrated because they are unable to follow their true vocation in the technical or craft field. Through my Trust, I have been trying to see if we can re-invigorate the whole field of craft apprenticeships and to make a long-term investment in the future of this country, and in the re-integration of personalities.
I warmly welcome this book which sets out a manifesto for apprenticeship as an essential preparation for a productive life. Apprenticeship is a valid and necessary way of handing on the knowledge of time-proven professional practices in a way in which a student can connect hand and brain in an atmosphere of timelessness. We have a responsibility for future generations. We must not lose the connection and experience of traditional skills and crafts, lest we lose the understanding. I applaud all that the Cardozo Kindersley Workshop seeks to achieve and I pray that this book will encourage others to explore the paths of apprenticeship and discover the joys that await.
1st edition 2003, Pb, 52pp, well illustrated, 12.5 x 19 cm