Leta Keens the editor of my third book, Nomad, but a like-minded spirit who I adore & admire as well as author of must-have book, ‘Shoes for the Moscow Circus’. Leta hosted and discussed old-fashioned trades that continue to thrive in Australia. Her fascination & long history with specialized crafts people & their interesting workshops inspired her content & photographic record in ‘Shoes for the Moscow Circus’. She ‘showed-and-told’ some of the trades in her book which cover broom-makers, doll parts, flag structuring & of course shoes for the Moscow circus amongst many others. It was an absolute pleasure & hit.
“Twenty-odd years ago I visited a terrazzo factory. It wasn’t the first factory I’d ever visited – as a kid, I’d been to some distant relative’s clock factory, and gone on a school excursion to a biscuit factory and then, on a working holiday in England, had a short-lived job counting nuts and bolts in a handmade car factory. But the terrazzo factory was the first one that made a lasting impression – the old Italians working there, the great stacks of terrazzo in pastel tones, the rusty old 44 gallon drums full of intensely coloured pigment, and just the fact that something could look like nothing from outside, and be completely gorgeous inside. I wrote about that factory in a magazine that closed down soon after…and so did the factory. For years, I thought it would make a fantastic series in a magazine – visiting factories and writing about them. But the right magazine didn’t exist. Luckily for me, a publisher asked me to write a book.
Shoes for the Moscow Circus is a celebration of trades & industries – dirty words in our society, I’ve realised. I visited more than 25 factories & workshops for the book (including an umbrella factory, a broom factory and a place that makes robes for clergy) and what I found was completely unexpected. In the workshop I’d like to share some of those discoveries – of the people, most of whom don’t realise they’re doing anything special; the places, which ranged from an oversized shed in a suburban street to a semi-industrial complex; and the amazing objects they make, many of which are better known overseas than they are here.”