Remembering Richard Shock
More than a year has passed since we lost a wonderful maker, and I lost a friend. Richard Shock was a dear man, a chemical engineer by profession who, on retirement brought a razor-sharp eye for detail to woodturning. In his second career he became much revered, not only for his making but his ability to organise, his kind manner, his willingness always to push forward and to try new things and for his sage advice. He will be sorely missed.
I met Richard a decade ago when he joined Seek & Adore. I was “Chief Seeker” for the company, the very lucky man who found the makers. However, I have a confession, I didn’t find Richard, I can take no credit for unearthing this gem, he was discovered by the founder of Seek & Adore, Hatty Fawcett, and from his first day he became a staunch supporter, an advisor and an advocate. Every organisation needs a Richard, and we had the best. When I moved on to pastures new after the very sad and untimely demise of Seek & Adore, I took him with me, he was too good to lose! Richard joined me when I became yet again the Chief Seeker for Home of Artisans and he moved seamlessly into my next incarnation as an independent curator for Handmade in Britain. He continued to be the man I wanted to have around and someone I admired greatly.
Richard was a fascinating man and very, very good company. I visited his home a number of times and have fond memories of sitting in his living room or in his charming wooded garden drinking tea or coffee and chewing the cud. His work would be everywhere – and the beautiful pictures by his wife, Kathy – a home with a warm welcome and lots of chat. He had tales to tell, advice to offer, questions to ask – always keenly specific! – and I had the honour, just once, to enter the inner sanctum that was his studio: lathes, blocks of wood, half made pieces and sawdust and wood shavings, lots of sawdust and wood shavings! But not from oak. Never from oak. Richard worked with wood, and loved wood, but oaks were not his friend. A woodturner allergic to oak. That was Richard.
This little tribute is long overdue. I couldn’t attend his funeral, as much as I had wanted to, another friend had died a few days before Richard and the funerals took place at the same time 50 miles apart. I was already committed to the first, so I sent my heartfelt thoughts to Richard and his family from a distance.
Richard was a wonderful man. It is good to remember, a year on, what a dear man he was, and what a truly talented maker.