The clean, fresh air and pure running waters rushing off the south-western valleys from Mt. Wellington towards the Huon are a fitting place for John – a man who’s distinctive sparkling blue eyes, and wild mop of grey hair shout – although softly, of a life chasing one party after another. “Almost one too many” John Hounslow-Robinson recounted, as he shared the story of how one day whilst chasing an escaped pig he was struck with excruciating chest pain. He was immediately rushed to the Royal Hobart Hospital where he received a second lease of life, in the form of a quadruple heart bypass.
We spent the afternoon together, sipping tea, chatting, eating abalone caught locally and prepared by his son Tom.
As we walked around the property, John showed me some of the treasures that he had stored up, ready for future knife handles to be made from: Pieces of old timber recycled salvaged from convict-built homes, a piece of Dugong bone, some stag antler a bowling ball. “These make great dishes. Bowls for cutting up herbs. I’ve been working on this one for a couple of years now.”
John has a careful eye for detail, and his highly sought after knives are used by gourmet celebrity chefs, and foodies from all across the world. I asked John if he’s up early every day forging these beautiful Damascus knives. “Oh. Depends. I might spend a morning working on a few.” He shares with me how his enjoyment for the natural environment and living simply allows him to manage a slower pace. I enjoyed the time that John generously spent chatting with me as we shared our passion for photography with each other. John enjoys shooting with his pinhole camera and medium format Bronica. I fired off a few shots as we explored his neighbours home-bar, the “rusty nail”. I look up to the ceiling and spot dozens of rusting nails that have been punched through the floor boards above. “Good job I’m a short pome!” I joke.
I look forward to getting to know John some more, and getting some photography in the forge capturing the process of crafting one of the Damascus knives that he’s so well known for creating.