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I'm an architectural photographer. I travel around Britain interacting with special places. I work from my camper van called Woody and I share my experiences via this digest.

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This year is proving to be full of promise, as we now have 3 historic sites to photograph under Member Powered Photography. A huge thanks to members for your support.

The sites are in Pembrokeshire, Monmouthshire and Yorkshire.

Members will be able to follow progress, see exclusive behind the scenes shots and also see the final professional photos.

On the Yorkshire site I'll be photographing the installation of a historic ceiling using traditional skills. The location is, arguably, one of the most iconic in the country. More later..

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Meet Ken Sisk and Victor Silverio - Sisk Productions

Ken and Victor are over from the USA and I'm collaborating with them on a film they are making about our traditional materials and skills called Wood, Stone and Steel. We spent a wonderful 10 days together - travelling around in Woody and covering 1500 miles - visiting some remarkable people and destinations.


'They say that you can put yourself in the way of beauty.'



Medullary Magic

I’ve just pulled Woody over into the picturesque yard of a farm just north of the market town of Glossop which sits within the rolling hills of the Pennines on the edge of the Peak District.

I’m here with Sisk Productions to capture the origin story behind Ben Naylor, the owner of the traditional joinery firm Jack Badger. As we prepare to pull the equipment together, we’re confronted, in the bitterly-cold snow flecked yard, by Ben’s dad, Dom, in a pair of boxer shorts.

There’s our origin story’, I think.

Ken Sisk interviews Ben Naylor. Victor Silverio holds the camera

Dom is an enigma - delightfully eccentric, highly intelligent, gloriously descriptive and an exceptionally talented stonemason. He takes Ken and Victor into the work shed, still in his boxer shorts, without a single blink. They shut the door behind them and I stand with the chickens in the yard.

Ben's dad, Dom - in his clothes. Photo thanks to Ben Naylor.

And then it catches my eye. This is what we’re here to see - some of Ben’s work: the delightfully crafted Gothic tracery on the door of his former work shed.

Here is Ben’s origin story. Out of this humble door springs an unadulterated joy in the craft of embellishing our lives. I'm in awe at the time it must have taken Ben to create something so singular out of a shed door. There's something that is deep-rooted and inter-generational about a skill like this.

That Ben might think, amidst the mundanity of a work shop, to light up his every day in such a way, is quite telling - and he has dedicated his life to building a firm of skilled artisans and artists that travel out from Glossop all over this fair land, like seeds on the wind.

Ben at work in his workshop

My eyes wander across the Gothic tracery on the door: from the carved mouchettes then onto the wooden planks that make up the door. Here the latent pattern in the wood oscillates in the changing light. It mirrors the yawning ogee and quatrefoil cusping of Ben’s work.

I look closer at the natural markings in the wood and remember something that Ben said to me earlier. He told me that the pattern doesn’t occur by chance, that it takes time and skill to get the wood to reveal its inherent beauty. He told me that the pattern is called the medullary ray and that these are the vascular rays that appear perpendicular to the growth.

The next thing he told me was quite remarkable for, in an age where we measure success in seconds, he says that there are people that dedicate hundreds of years to an individual tree in order to set its beauty free.

The Quarter Sawn Oak Company

Our visit to The Quarter Sawn Oak Company in Edale, is a revelation. This is where all the medullary magic happens. To reveal its beauty the oak is quarter sawn, a traditional method that differs from cost-benefit modern techniques.

The simplest way to explain the method is to use an apple - cut it one way and it shows the stalk, cut it another and it reveals a star...


The owner, Austin Neves takes us through a process which is unchanged for centuries, relaying tales of giant windblown oaks being shipped from distant lands.

Austin Neves

Many are winter felled from sustainable woodlands and are quarter sawn and planked as soon as possible. The boards are then stacked and left to season for two years.

It takes me some time to get my head around the process: to get the wood into the planked and cusped state of Ben’s door, somebody has to think to plant a tree at least two hundred years before.

Whilst Ken and Victor are interviewing Austin, I take a walk around the workshop. I’m in the land of giants, a place where huge tree trunks, weighing several tonnes have been carefully spliced into section. This place is the tree version of Gunther Von Hagen’s Body Worlds.

And then I see the end result - the medullary ray. It was a pattern that fixated the great Victorian architect Pugin and compelled him to adorn the Palace of Westminster with its beauty. I walk over to a medley of boards laid flat on the floor - the curlicues shimmer in the layered gradations of light. No two patterns are the same. This place seems like a palace to me.

Since experiencing the beauty of Ben’s work and the deep rooted tradition of Austin's practice, I haven’t looked at a piece of wood in the same way since. It isn’t just because of its aesthetic beauty, but also because of the way it changed my perception of time. Their work is something that strikes hard against the immediacy of our times, a counter-narrative to our increasing short-termism.

Both Ben, with his careful craftsmanship and Austin with his seasonal perspective, live in a time-space with a longer view - a time that is qualitative rather than quantitive, and more importantly, one that pulls into the frame our future generations. It’s a kind of thinking that conjures up an empathy for the world our little ones might be living in, a cathedral thinking that could one day save our planet.

Cathedral Thinking: A young Ben Naylor (right) and his Dad Dom (left) work up a piece of stone - photo thanks to Ben Naylor

"There's something that is deep-rooted and inter-generational about a skill like this."

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Jack Badger Workshop, Old Glossop

For somebody who has been photographing the egg and dart, the guilloche and the water-leaf patterns of the greatest buildings in our nation for over 20 years - Ben Naylor's latest workshop is the equivalent to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory.

It’s a real privilege to get ’back stage access’ and see how the beauty that adorns our heritage is crafted by the hand. Even Woody got an invite into the workshop.

Jack Badger is a local dialect term for a joiner’s plane.

Below: the blueprint for a piece of moulding is laid over the wood:

The carpenter then works to the blueprint - cutting out relevant sections of wood


There’s lots of inspiration on the walls of the workshop

This place feels rooted in tradition - from the tools that they use:

Through to the age old techniques..

The adze has been used for millennia - the tell tale marks of the adze have been found in pre-historic logboats.


That such time and care should be taken over a piece of wood..


It's so heart-warming to see a continuitation of some of the decorative traditions that are rooted back in time…

…and the creation of new traditions and perspectives:

Whilst over in Glossop I lodge in the van near to Ben's house. Inside he shows me the door he made for his bedroom. They say you can put yourself in the way of beauty.

I’m reminded of William Morris’s words:

‘If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.’



I wake up at around 4am. It's a chilly start. Ice has formed on the inside of the van.

I head down to Heathrow to pick up Ken Sisk and Victor Silverio from Sisk Productions, but , before I do, I get Woody stuck at the top end of a ramp at Heathrow (which is too low for Woody's height). I end up driving the wrong way down a one way ramp with my hazard lights flashing. It isn't a good start.

Woody is on a tight schedule. Ken and Victor are travelling in the van with their film equipment. We are travelling the length and breadth of the country.

Van Life Gallery
My van, Woody, is my time-travelling machine, taking me to some remarkable places that have altered my mind like wine through water.




It's a Wood Thing

This digest shows the remarkable Spring Chapel at Lavenham (and the misericords). Some fine wood carving here:

Andy Marshall’s Genius Loci Digest: 19 Jan 2024
It’s that time of day where the sun reveals and conceals. Pockets of light pepper gnarled and ancient surfaces. At times like this I get caught between my urge to date and categorise and the unadulterated joy of enjoying the pattern of things.

The Wood based Comperandums


Comperandum - Misericords
A nod to Banister Fletcher: Misericords

Timber Framed Buildings

Comperandum - Timber Framed Buildings
A nod to Banister Fletcher: Timber Framed Buildings

The Green Man

Comperandum - The Foliate Head
A nod to Banister Fletcher: The Foliate Head

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In essence I’m offering my professional services for free to historic locations in Britain.

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Digest Membership Sponsor: Leisuredrive Campervans Ltd.
Established in 1969, we are the UK’s longest standing independent campervan company.


Ben & Dom's wall says it all (they think outside of the box):

A Special Thanks to Sisk Productions for making this possible.

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Photographs and words by Andy Marshall (unless otherwise stated). Most photographs are taken with Iphone 14 Pro and DJI Mini 3 Pro.