Alistair Raphael is from London and originally trained as an artist graduating with a Masters degree from Chelsea School of Art,1990.
He maintained a career as an artist and an ambitious career in the arts, most recently as Head of Arts at The Royal Parks Agency and Arts Event Manager at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Fuelled by a desire to fundamentally return to 'making', in 2011 he decided to retrain to be a Cordwainer having participated in a number of short courses in shoemaking. The physicality and precision required to undertake the over two-hundred step process to construct a pair of shoes in the hand-sewn English bespoke tradition, combined with the discipline of repeating the process to create something beautiful, comfortable and practical and become a master-maker was so appealing to him he sought QEST funding to undertake an apprenticeship to Deborah Carré and James Ducker at Carréducker. Deborah Carré was a QEST scholar and was herself inspired to change her career by QEST Scholar, Claire O'Flaherty. Alistair therefore will be the third generation of QEST Scholars to pass on their skill, passion and knowledge of bespoke shoemaking.
"Without the funding, encouragement and ongoing support from QEST I would not have had the opportunity to initiate and develop my practice as a shoemaker." Funding from QEST has allowed him one to one tuition with Deborah and James - three days a week in their studio in Bloomsbury and one day at Gieves and Hawks in Saville Row where they have a concession as part of the long established bespoke service. They guide him through the complex techniques and processes as well as introduce him to finer details of bespoke making. He began his apprenticeship in June 2014 and has so far made six pairs of shoes. The intensive year apprenticeship will take him to the level of West End standard after completing thirty pairs. "In a relatively short period I have begun to gain confidence, professionalise my practice, have made great contacts and have started to fulfil a long held ambition. It's hard work but I'm really enjoying it, without QEST this would have taken years to realise".
Alistair hopes to reach a standard by where he can continue to train and practice whilst making for West End clients with supervision in the coming years.