LANDMARK PUBLICATION LAUNCHED TO ISLAND COMMUNITY
An ambitious, landmark publication that promotes the Isle of Wight as a positive and progressive place to live, work and play, was officially launched at Nunwell House, Brading, Isle of Wight on Friday 7 June. During the course of the day, Chris Scott, Founder of The Wight Book – a celebration of the Isle of Wight – welcomed over 250 guests to the beautiful country house setting and paid tribute to the 70 Island business sponsors, 10 photographers, 24 authors and the team of 22 volunteers who helped to make The Wight Book happen.
Two years in the making, The Wight Book, a not-for-profit publication, endorses why the Island is globally recognised for its history, innovation, creativity, natural produce, sailing, ecology, outdoor activities and events, plus its entrepreneurial spirit. Divided into 22 chapters, it is written by leading Island figures who give fascinating first-person accounts of Island life; illustrated with stunning contemporary photographs donated by 10 of the Island’s leading photographers.
Chris Scott said, “The journey we have followed to reach where we are today has been a long one. Over two years ago, I was hooked on the dream of producing a coffee table book that celebrates everything that is good about the Island we all love. This was then to be used for inward investment on the Island and be of general public interest. The book would be written by authors from the Island who make the best contribution to showcase this Isle of Wight, with supporting photography by the best local photographers who create stunning images, working with local printer, Crossprint. It has been a fantastic Island effort.”
Chris continued, “What has amazed me is the level of sponsorship for this book. This is a not-for-profit publication with all net proceeds going to local charities. In approaching the Island’s businesses, I have been amazed at the generosity and interest in this project. I thank everyone who has been involved – including the sponsors of the launch here at Nunwell House today.”
The Wight Book is a collaboration between Chris Scott, designer Brian Marriott and photographer Ben Wood who put together a team of the Island’s professionals: designers, photographers and writers, supported by a large group of volunteers, using their expertise to create this independently produced, large format, hardback book that celebrates everything that is great about the Isle of Wight.
Brian Marriott created the overall design concept and production took place in the Crossprint studio. Brian said, “When Chris asked me to join him on this ambitious project, I immediately knew this could be a compilation of everything I personally love about the Island, but at that moment it was only a vision in my head. When I started to plan out the content that reflected Chris’s brief, ‘everything that is great about the Island’, I arrived at 22 sections and realised the enormity of the task! I approached 22 people to write the forewords to each chapter, all of whom I respect and have had the pleasure of working with in the past. No-one refused my proposal, in fact it was enthusiastically received”.
As a totally independent production with no funding to start with, Christopher Scott was positive he could raise the money to cover the production costs, but The Wight Book could not have happened to the standard it has achieved without the kind support of 10 Island photographers who agreed to provide access to their archive images to support Brian’s visual concepts for each section. Clearly this was going to be a huge project management task. Ben Wood, a recognised Island professional, accepted the challenge and joined Brian as Photo Editor in assembling 1000’s of images and interfacing with the photographers.
Ben Wood said, “When I first received Chris and Brian’s formative ideas on The Wight Book, I was taken aback. It initially felt too big, too ambitious to pull off. At the same time, it was the scale of the project that appealed and I felt sure I didn’t want it to go ahead without me, so it didn’t take me long to sign up. We are blessed on the Island with many fine photographers and once we had settled on our team of 10, the book began to take shape very quickly. Many of the photographers I’d admired from afar, so it’s been a great experience to get to know them better and to go through their archives selecting the photography to illustrate Brian’s 22 chapters. This book is a one-off, a never-to-be-repeated snapshot of life on the Island in 2019.”
Besides the chapters on stunning landscapes, fascinating history, cultural heritage, ecology, community and wellbeing, the book portrays our amazing businesses that have global markets, exporting to over 90 sovereign nations. ‘Innovation is in our DNA’ states one headline and includes many ‘Firsts’ for the Island like the electric car, sea plane, hovercraft, permanent wireless radio station and British satellite. It features companies like IFPL, Innovative Physics, RFEL and Yogogawa Marex.
Another headline states ‘this small Island is at the centre of an engineering revolution’ reflecting the huge success of MHI Vestas. GKN, BAE, BN, AJ Wells, Liz Earle Beauty, Wight Shipyard and Vikoma are also featured. However, the design does not overlook the importance of the Island’s fascinating array of entrepreneurs who make up the fabric of business life. Ben Rouse heads up this section of 19 diverse examples of people who have chosen the Island for their work, life balance.
And to answer the question, “Why? Why have so many businesses come together to create and fund this extraordinary book?” Here are just a few examples …
Tapnell Farm was the first business approached by Chris Scott for sponsorship. Tom Honeyman Brown said, “As a project which aims to celebrate the creativity, cultural heritage and entrepreneurialism of the Isle of Wight, The Wight Book is a huge success and is something we are immensely proud to be part of. The book has been carefully curated and as well as looking great, it serves as a fantastic mouthpiece to show the Island off in all its glory – we can see it sitting on coffee tables around the world helping the Island rub shoulders with some of the best global destinations!
Gail Willows, who wrote the Foreword for International Sailing Centre, said, “My top three reasons why The Wight Book is an important way to showcase all that is awesome about the Island; firstly, community spirit – the effort to produce this book is testament to the attitude of Island folk. We are all busy professionally, but we find time to give back. Secondly, life by the sea – this was always obvious to me that I should choose this category. I spend most of my free time enjoying a life on the ocean! And thirdly, talent – there are many innovative companies here on the Island so it’s great to be proud and shout about those! I work at the Ellen MacArthur Foundation where we are driving change in our global economic systems, all from our HQ on the Island. That’s a pretty special place to be. Our 130 plus staff love the balance the access to the natural environment brings them.”
Cedric Wells of AJ Wells, one of the Sponsors of the book said, “As a third generation family business, the Isle of Wight has always played an integral part in the story of our company, so it was an honour to be involved in a publication that celebrates so much of what talent the Island has to offer. The Wight Book will be such a valuable resource to celebrate our Island heritage particularly for our international customers. It has a wonderful narrative that captures the true spirit of our beautiful and unique Island.”
Dr Brian Hinton, who wrote the Foreword for Cultural Heritage, said, “I was really proud to be asked to write a brief survey of the Island’s cultural history, for this exciting project. I would have been very upset if they had asked anyone else! It will be the first collation of words and photographs to survey just about every aspect of the Island, past present and looking forward too. I think The Wight Book is going to be a work of permanent importance.”
Chris, Brian and Ben have had to make a balanced judgement on the content and cannot hope to represent all the talent, inventiveness and dedication within the business and community sectors on the Island, but anyone on the Island browsing this book will feel immense pride and anyone off the Island will be astonished to know how vibrant, inventive, creative and active this small Island is…”we punch well above our weight” said Chris.
The Wight Book will be available from 1st July 2019 and all net proceeds will go to local charities. For details of Island stockists and to pre-order a copy, please visit: www.thewightbook.co.uk You can also view a short 60 second film produced courtesy of Steve Edmonds of TVMI.