Shaw-Smith made HANDS, a unique, multi-award winning series of
thirty-seven documentries on Irish crafts for Irish television
Capturing the final years of traditional rural and urban life
Ireland, during the seventies and eighties. They travelled the length
and breadth of the country recording these personal and revealing
films. As much about the life of the individuals, as the crafts they
sight and sound of
the wild Atlantic Ocean, a spinning wheel turns rhythmically in time
to the high lonely cry of the sandpiper, echoing the history of a
craft which may go back 3000 years into Ireland’s past. David
Sally Shaw-Smith documented more than forty different traditional
Irish crafts, from the weaving of crioses (colourful woollen belts)
and the making of pampooties (moccasin-type shoes) on the Aran
Islands, to the creation of items as varied as harps and candles,
curraghs, drystone walls and Irish lace.
by a sense of
urgency to record crafts in their natural surroundings before they
disappeared completely, David and his wife Sally, under contract to
RTÉ, travelled the length and breadth of Ireland and
to assemble this important collection of 37 films on traditional
Irish crafts and lifestyles, where the emphasis is on the skills of
human hands rather than on machines.
The films not only
record the various craft processes in great detail, but also create a
unique archive of life in Ireland at the end of the 20th century.
David’s skilled camera work and direction, accompanied by
creativity, and with help from an array of
talented editors, technicians and sensitive narrators, combined to
produce this outstanding series of documentaries.
The filmmaker, David
Shaw-Smith, grew up in Dublin, Ireland. From an early age, he was
inspired by traditional practices and the natural world. He learnt
his craft, initially working in television, joining the recently
formed RTÉ Irish state broadcasting organisation in the
1960’s. After this, he went on to work for the renowned
filmmaker Gerrit Van Gelderen, from whom he learnt his camera craft.
With this experience under his belt and a clear vision, he went out
independently to make numerous films, many of which are included in