The ancient art of globe-making

Sometimes all you need in order to exploit a new passion or even create a new business is to disregard mediocre results from others and get stuff done yourself. This is what Peter Bellerby did in 2008 when he couldn’t find a decent globe for his father’s 80th birthday and started making one himself. What he thought was going to be a long, but accessible task revealed to be a very tough job. But a year later,  he realised he had done something very special and unique and founded Bellerby & Co, Globemakers.  Today, Globemakers is one of only two handmade globe making company in the world and the only handmade globemaker.

I had the most amazing start of the week, as I was exploring their beautiful studios in North London with my friend Alex. It was like an immersion in the past, in a world where things are made with care, patience, love and time. Lots of time. I learnt about painting and I watched the most careful hands placing slices of the world on naked globes. As you know, I’m a traveller and I have this obsession with globes and maps, because every time I look at one of them I learn something new. They inspire me to travel more, to respect planet Earth but they also make feel me so close to other human beings. So, for me, being able to spend a few hours there, it was just one of the most inspiring experiences of my life. In fact, if I wasn’t leaving in 10 days, I’d ask Jade  and Pete to hire me for an internship 🙂

From their stunning studio in Stoke Newington, they do everything from scratch except the fabrication of their moulds which come from Formula 1 experts. Again, as perfection is the main goal, Pete and Jade decided to kill the probability of errors from the start and have perfect globes.  From there, applying the slices of paper and paint them, it’s a very delicate and long process. In fact, a small globe can take four weeks while a large one can take almost a year. At Bellerby, the team is obviously the perfectionist type. They would never let gores (the slices of map) to overlap or compromise quality with wrong latitude lines. And I get his point. I’m a detail-oriented person too: why would you want something, anything, if you are not getting the absolute best? Pete told us that if there is any mistake, the globes get stripped completely and they have to start from scratch again.

It was fascinating and mesmerising to watch Isis paint her way through China heading towards Japan. Pretty much my trip, or part of it. With the touch of her brush she took me to foreign and unknown lands and I think I spent a good ten minutes staring at her hand and being lost in lands I don’t know yet, but I already love.


Today, from this special studio filled with a young and creative vibe in north London, the team of trained globe makers produce high quality globes of all size and style, but they also take commissions for maps personalisation and other bespoke elements. Personally, I’ve already made arrangements for a globe that highlights my upcoming journey through Asia and Australia. I can already see Isis painting her way here, along mine there, so that, in a year time, when I will be back, my real-time travel globe will be ready for collection.

 

Read more about Globemakers here, their blog is one to follow too here, or have a glimpse at their stunning studios on their instagram page, curated by the lovely Jade.

Notes:
Their studios are not open to the public, you can see some of Bellerby & Co globes at Harrods in London and on their website.
I was a guest of Bellerby & Co during my visit. All views are my own.

 

Freedom

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.
– Albert Camus

 

Is that true? Is that possible?

I have been questioning what Freedom is for a long time. And I have been wondering if I was free. Am I? What does really mean to be free?

I had some great input and answers on my instagram pool and while I agreed with some answers, I couldn’t understand others.

For some it’s “the ability to positively direct our lives” (@simplysimmybee), for others is the sensation felt while sitting on the top of a moutain in Ireland or in front of the ocean in awe of Mother’s Earth beauty (@the.red.brick.road), and for some is “time to spend with loved ones and things for ourselves (@Janne)

But what is Freedom?

For the Oxford Dictionary, Freedom is

the condition or right of being able or allowed to do, say, think, etc. whatever you want to, without being controlled or limited.

Taking this definition as a parameter, I doubt we could really be free. In any society, there are restrictions that don’t allow us to say, do or sometimes even think what we want. We respect other people’s feelings so we wouldn’t tell them if they look fat or if they are boring, right? (Well, unless you are an a**hole!)  We wouldn’t kill someone, would we? Some thoughts are also forbidden by some religions or cultures around the world. So, are we really free? We can’t always speak our thoughts and we can’t do everything we want without hurting someone or being outlaw, i.e. living in a country without the legitimate visa, killing, hurting, offending….

So, are we really free?

I acknowledge that we are much, much free-er than our ancestors, most of all us, women, in the Western world have achieved more in the last 50 years than in the previous thousands.

But F R E E D O M as expressed by the dictionary would be only achievable in complete isolation on top of a mountain or on Mars, where our actions wouldn’t affect other people’s lives. That level of freedom isn’t possible on our world.

However, for me Freedom is not the ability to do or say what I want. Freedom is the possibility to choose. It is the possibility to do the right thing for me (and others) in the right way and in the right moment. Freedom is the ability to let go of things that don’t add value to our lives so that we can focus on those who do. Freedom is the capacity to spend time doing the things we love and enjoy rather than being caged in doing what we are supposed to do. It’s freedom of choice.

Our society doesn’t allow that. We live to work and no longer work to live. Of course basic needs have to be fulfilled but consumerism have pushed us to pursue more than we can spend. The American dream transplanted a bit all over the world has made us slave of money and material possessions, on an endless and non-sense pursuit of more. More of what, you are asking? More of everything. How many televisions have you got in your house? How many smartphones? How many dresses or pair of shows you own? Whatever is the answer, they are too many. Advertising and social pressure makes us believe we need all of this, but we don’t.

We are no longer devoting time to have E N O U G H , we are wasting our lives to have more.

We can never be free if we don’t free ourselves of useless needs and superficial necessities that weight us down and fill our days and weeks for the majority of our awaken hours.

Could we have a better life if we had all the money in this world?

The answer is yes, for some who struggle to survive, but the reality is that over a certain threshold, there is no difference. There’s luxury, of course, but what’s the purpose of that? It’s just like fake filling, not real, not necessary.

And so, like many people I believe, we are not really free.

Not in the true, purest sense of Freedom.

But like many others, I believe w e c a n b e f r e e, we can make decisions to free up space in our lives, we can change the directions when things are not going as we want. We can turn things around more often than we believe.

 

Notes – the above is obviously a generalisation of our society, I’m well-aware that there are so many people struggling to get to the end of the month, or even have enough for the day or that are submitted to live in poverty or slavery.