Having been an antique restorer for over 26 years now I’d never really considered applying for a new title but to help give French clients confidence in my experience and expertise I decided to apply to be a Maître Artisan here in Normandy.
There was a fair amount of paperwork (as one expects in France!) and my wife Sabina, who is a graphic designer, prepared a full portfolio with photo montages of not only my work, but also my open days, classic car shows, French press articles and anything else that we could think of that we thought might help. We knew that it would be an uphill battle in some respects, as most of my experience was in Surrey in England and I hadn’t taken part in any French competitions or had any French Apprentices. These were just two of the many criteria that they were looking for!
First of all the lady from the Chambre de Metiers came to review our application, then she had to present it to the president. He then had to agree to present it to the regional comission and then only 3 times a year they hold their ‘commission’ to decide if the applicants are eligible.
We heard the news just a few days before Christmas via a lovely email from the adviser at the Chambre de Métiers et de l’artisanat de la Manche who advised us that she was ‘le Père Noël’ and that she had a ‘cadeau’ for me in the form of the award of the title.
Having bumped into the Percy journalist Laurent l’Hermite at our village’s ‘Voeux du Maire’ mid-january he came round once again to my workshop and wrote a large article on my new title:
Article that appeared in the Ouest france Newspaper January 2012
Simon Lorkin this English, French Master Craftsman
This is the story of an English family in love with the Normandy countryside, becoming French in the sense that little Émilie, with an accent on the E, their five year old daughter, is reluctant to speak English at home, at Le Mesnage in the heights of Montbray, where the five Lorkins have lived “since June 2004.” A family that is fully integrated into local life. “We’re here. Settled. And we’re staying here “ensures Sabina, active member of the local school’s Parents association as well as Montbray-Dynamic the villages franco-brittanique association that she is a founding member of.
Simon, an antique restorer, joined the association that intends to boost its common adoption. The small workshop crammed with furniture, smelling of wood. A very old dresser, “1680″ is being restored to it’s original beauty. “Using traditional methods, but keeping the patina of the furniture.” Certainly spruced up as it would have been when it was new but always in-keeping with the age the item.
At only 41 years old, Simon Lorkin already has “26 years of experience,” and has had “a level of expertise” which in England, he could, and still allows him, to work for museums, country houses and churches.
Furniture and Classic Cars
Christmas gift, coupled with a letter from the Regional Chamber of Trades and Crafts of Normandy on 6 January. Simon Lorkin now has the title of ‘Maître Artisan’ (Master Craftsman). A French diploma “To give people confidence in his expertise and experience. “It’s not the language that matters, ” says Sabina, in her excellent French, while her husband nods his head.
A diploma, the couple hope, would “open the doors of mansions” if only ajar.
Furniture and Classic cars.
Classic dashboards. This is the sign that the Anglo-montbrayon workshop door is sporting. The dashboards of classic cars, Simon’s other passion. Wood trim or false wood effectin burr walnut, hold no secrets for him. Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Jaguar, or smaller brands. Simon restores them all. The Facel Vega Classic car Club of France is interested in him as he now restores their very specific wood effect for their interior trim and dashboatf. He will, as always, participate in the classic car shows at Auto-Moto-Retro in Rouen and Caen Retro-Festival, this year as a ‘Master Craftsman’ this year.
Coming soon…My next article will be ‘How to best look after your antique furniture’