Home Work, by Tessa Bunney,

It is very rare that a book of photography gives you the chance to slow the course of time, to the extent of bringing you to exactly where the photographer wished you to embark. Tessa Bunney’s work has succeeded. Her book is a gem of delicacy and visual intelligence.

Over the course of two six-month visits in 2006 and 2008, she has molded images of her subject with an artist’s eye. Does she know every village surrounding Hanoi? There are over a thousand within a fifty kilometer radius around Hanoi, the megalopolis of the Red River Delta, and they represent 40% of all cottage industry in Vietnam. While Bunney may not know them all, many of them have become familiar to her. She recognizes them at fi rst glance, not so much by the individual beauty of each village as by the handicraft that they produce. Some villages have been producing their artifact for centuries, others have made a more recent choice in order to supplement the income from agricultural labor. All now form part of Hanoi’s third urban belt, made up of seven new provinces with a total of 18 million inhabitants. Suddenly, each product, each village, has become incredibly close to our local corner shop on the other side of the world.

Image after image, the reader discovers where a particular product comes from, with which gestures it is accomplished, from which patched-up bed, makeshift bench or worn-out stool it has left its village hovel, to end up in our shopping basket. Tessa Bunney describes this point of departure with precision and sensitivity. There is respect in her gaze, and probably love as well, the better to awaken our perception of a world which is changing inescapably, the world of our close neighbors, right next door to us, within fi fty kilometers of our global megalopolis.

Home Work, by Tessa Bunney, Dewi Lewis Publishing, £19.99