“Ask any artisan why he has chosen such a time consuming profession, and he will struggle to explain the complex relationship between himself and the object on which he works; he will tell you about the ‘dialogue’ that happens between the two, and the heart and soul that he pours into the result. However, in reality how is such a ‘dialogue’ conducted, and how can someone pour soul into an object? The same relationship springs up between the farmer and the land: a kind of courtly love that ties him for the rest of his life, but to which he will always be attached by a vow of fidelity.
The work of a craftsman lifts objects into a world of meaning that we risk losing in our totally mechanised age. ‘Marks of human labor’ and the ‘memorial of an activity’ can elicit appreciation even from those unwilling to acknowledge the value of the hand-produced things. But if this goes some way to explaining the appeal of craft production for the consumer, what about the producer? What compels someone to go through such hurdles, to become so ‘hooked’ on handiwork as to devote his life to it? I believe that the social importance of such a way of production far exceeds its economic benefit, and that its true value is even greater for the producer than it is for the consumer. The value of craft doesn’t reside simply in providing essential products for city life; it lies in the way the products are made and the subliminal education that emanates from them, which is in my view essential for any flourishing society. Such craft production broadens our sense of the universe as an arena for inspiration and creation. Realising how much it takes to make something teaches us the perfection we can aim for, even if we can never achieve it. Craft products educate us to strive for commitment and allow us to know what it is like to contribute.”
Mara Al-Sabouni writes with beauty and empathy and will give you a different view from what we are given in the mainstream media. I can highly recommend her book The Battle for Home - The Memoir of a Syrian Architect. Or alternatively her TedX talk recorded from her home in Homs, Syria here.