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By Naomi Marshall
Over the past 30 years, Cesare Gunning has been working intelligently and creatively with leather which has enabled him to reflect critically on his work in an interview with Village Voice News.
Gunning is a leather smith who creates, crafts, sews and fixes articles made of genuine leather with the finest quality.
He specialises in producing leather slippers, sandals, bags and belts. Gunning’s ability to skillfully cut, join, shape, and finish good-performing leather items of high quality has placed him among the best leather smiths in Guyana.
Sixty-year-old Gunning who grew up in Bourda, Georgetown recalled his first encounter with leather being in primary school. He related to this newspaper that after school he would go to the leather factory and assist with shinning the leather and would receive a wage of 25 cents a week.
“I attended the St. Mary’s Primary and after school I would go and help the guys buff the leather at the leather factory. Most days were hard but still nice. The guys in the industry was very nice and if you don’t know something they would teach you,” he remembered.
However, after leaving high school Gunning would go on to work as a chef at numerous high class commercial businesses in Guyana. Before committing to leather craft, he also worked on sea and as a cobbler.
It was in 1992 that the father of five decided to become a leather smith full time. Since then Gunning could be found on a daily basis in his workshop located at Golden Grove, East Coast Demerara creating leather items using the tools of the trade.
Gunning noted that with time and experience his skills have improved which resulted in the creation of more reliable, long lasting, and better looking leather articles.
“The favourite part of making a leather item for me is when it is completed, because when it is completed that is when you see the beauty of what you produce. When customers come and love what they see that makes my job complete,” he noted.
Gunning noted that his challenge is being unable to meet the demands of customers due to the inadequate availability of leather. He called on the Leather Craft Association to address the issue of leather shortage and seek ways to make it accessible.
Gunning added that more needs to be done for leather craft in Guyana.
“Leather craft needs a bit more boost in this country and support from the local people. Leather craft business is getting slow now due to the taxes upon the materials. We (leather smiths in Guyana) have a lot of talents and skills and we put out very good leather craft throughout the Caribbean. However, we are getting a hard time to get materials,” he stated.
Nevertheless, Gunning is eager to continue down the road of being a successful leather smith. Currently, Gunning is working on turning his workshop into a craft shop, what he calls “stepping a link up.”
“I want to come out from the work shop and into the craft shop. I want to do a craft shop where I will offer a wider variety of leather products and have them readily available to the reach of customers. I want to produce at a higher standard and display full creative local art,” he stated.
Persons interested in contacting Cesare Gunning can call 6863625.