handiwork is my first book of non-fiction. It was written quickly, almost impulsively, over the course of six months in 2018, and in response to a period in which I was spending much more time working with my hands than writing. I felt strangely guilty about all of the hours and effort I was putting into the development of sculptural projects, and I felt compelled to justify it to myself in writing. During the same period, I became very interested in birds and their migration. At a certain point, the two subjects came to seem connected and I started reading relevant material and accumulating notes in response to their connections. handiwork is a book of intervals. There’s almost certainly more blank space inside it than text, plus a series of photographs. I describe the house where I live and how I habitually use it, the various different work stations that have been established over the years, and my various different art-related activities during the course of an ordinary day. It’s about my relationship with the making of objects, as well as writing itself. And it’s about my relationship with my dead dad, with William Morris, with migrant birds, with time. I hadn’t precisely intended for it to be a book, but at a certain stage, it seemed to have decided for itself. The photographs came about because Lisa Coen of Tramp Press requested some kind of a visual of the book’s most significant bird, the northern wheatear. I can’t draw terribly well, nor would I be capable of taking a well-focussed photograph of a living bird, and so I decided I would make models out of plaster, carved and painted.
Sara Baume grew up in county Cork and studied Fine Art at Dun Laoghaire College of Art and Design before completing the MPhil in Creative Writing at Trinity College Dublin. She first came to prominence when she won the Davy Byrne Short Story award for her story Solesearcher1 in 2014. Her debut novel Spill, Simmer, Falter, Wither was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award, won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and has been widely translated. In 2017, A Line Made by Walking was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize and nominated for the Dublin International Literary Award (previously known as the IMPAC). She has also been awarded the Rooney Prize and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. She works as a visual artist as well as a writer, and her first solo exhibition took place in autumn 2018. handiwork is her first work of non-fiction. She lives in West Cork.