Extended deadline! The Cockpit Arts / The Arts Society Award 2017

Porcelain lithophane lighting by Bethan Lewis-Williams

Porcelain lithophane lighting by 2015 winner Bethan Lewis-Williams

Extended deadline: 17 July 2017, 10am

This annual award from Cockpit Arts is supported by The Arts Society (formerly The National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies or NADFAS) and supports a maker practicing a traditional craft that requires skills at risk of dying out. On offer is one year’s sponsored workshop space at one of Cockpit’s creative business incubators. Since 2012, the Award has been organised in conjunction with the HCA.

Previous award winners include Thomas von Nordheim (2007), Tamasyn Gambell (2008), Tobye Le Vaillant (2009), Alex Bishop (2010), Shaun Grace (2012), Alex Potter (2013), Sarah Kelly (2014), Beth Lewis-Williams (2015) and Lucy McGrath (2016). Additional awardees include Camilla Lee Lambert (2015, The David Bell Memorial Award) and Mariano Palencia Crespo (2016, The Greater London NADFAS Award).

To apply email Sandie Mattioli for an application pack.

Honours for heritage craftspeople

Heritage crafts have received royal recognition and high honour with three craftspeople included in The Queen’s Birthday Honours Lists this year.

Wim VisscherVellum maker Wim Visscher has been awarded an MBE. Wim is owner of William Cowley, producers of hand-crafted parchment and vellum since 1870, and the last parchment and vellum makers left in the UK. Wim said:

It is a great honour and privilege to be recognised in this way. My father, grandfather and great grandfather, all parchment makers before me, would be amazed if they were here. I am particularly grateful to the Heritage Crafts Association for putting my name forward as a potential recipient for an honour of which I was entirely ignorant until now!

The Association do great work in supporting skilled craftsmen and women. They recognise the long-term environmental and economic benefits of historic crafts which make things that last and look good for life; inspiringly different to the products of our “throw away” society.

Felicity IronsRush worker Felicity Irons has been awarded a BEM. Owner of Rush Matters and supplier of  traditional rush flooring to the National Trust as well as creator of a wide range of contemporary work, Felicity has given new life to the ancient craft of rushweaving. Felicity said:

When I first read the letter from the Cabinet Office I thought it must be a hoax. I had to ask my Mum to read it several times for me. She had known about it for ages as she had been working with the Heritage Crafts Association on the nomination! I am just so stunned and still really trying to take it all in. I keep thinking why me; I just go to work every day. It is pretty emotional but wow, it’s amazing.

John Lord

Photo by Matthew Usher

A BEM has also been awarded to John Lord, master of the ancient craft of flint knapping.  He said:

I would like to thank the Heritage Crafts Association for putting my name forward for this National Honour. I accept this award only on behalf of all skilled flint knappers both past and present, and in particular on behalf of our ancient ancestors whose skills will never be equalled.

All three were nominated for their awards by the Heritage Crafts Association.  Vice Chair Patricia Lovett MBE, said:

This is tremendous recognition for the skills and expertise of traditional craftspeople. These honours show the very real value of heritage crafts to people’s lives today.

QEST/HCA Apprenticeship now open for applications

Hannah VickersDeadline: 3 August 2017

The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) Heritage Crafts Association Apprenticeship provides funding to enable Apprentices to learn craft skills within companies and from master craftsmen and to support employers to take on Apprentices and nurture a new generation of craftspeople.

The maximum available per apprenticeship is £18,000 over 3 years (or £6,000 per year) and is available to part-fund salaries, training costs and/or materials.

On the application form both Employer and Apprentice will need to explain clearly why the proposed training will develop the Apprentice’s skills.  A training plan will also need to be completed, to best demonstrate the Apprentice’s progression route. Applicants are advised to give themselves plenty of time to complete the application.

Click here for more details and to apply

 

Heritage Crafts Awards winners 2017 announced

Martin FrostThe last remaining professional fore-edge painter Martin Frost has been awarded Maker of the Year by the Heritage Crafts Association at its Textures of Craft conference on 6 May 2017. Fore-edge painting is one of the seventeen critically endangered crafts identified by the HCA.

Martin took up the craft of vanishing fore-edge painting in 1970, continuing an English tradition that dates back to the 17th Century. Since then he has produced over 3,300 edge-paintings, many on carefully restored antique books.  His commitment to the craft as an artist and untiring efforts to raise its profile have won him respect from fellow craftspeople and collectors alike.

Maker of the Year is one of six awards with a total value of up to £27,000 presented this year by the HCA. The other awards were made in partnership with Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST), Marsh Christian Trust and the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS).

  • Leather worker Candice Lau was awarded the HCA/QEST training scholarship. Largely self-taught, Candice designs bespoke leatherwork from her design workshop/studio. The award will enable Candice to attend an intensive 3-month course at the renowned Italian school of leatherwork in Florence, the Scuola di Cuoio, to enhance her technical skills.
  • Shoemaker Frances Pinnock was awarded the HCA/NADFAS training bursary to study with cordwainers Carréducker and pattern cutter Fiona Campbell, and to buy the tools and equipment needed to further her career.
  • Pamela Emerson was awarded HCA/Marsh Volunteer of the Year for her work with NI Big Sock, a community project involving the creation of a world record breaking patchwork Christmas stocking. Pamela devised the project as a way of highlighting sewing as a valuable skill, celebrating Northern Irish traditions of linen production and shirt making, and bringing communities together in the process.
  • Alistair McCallum was awarded the HCA/Marsh Trainer of the Year award. A silversmith who exhibits nationally and internationally and one of the leading practitioners of the Japanese metalworking technique of Mokume Gane, he has been tireless in his efforts to pass on his skills to the next generation of makers.
  • Deborah Carré and James Ducker won the HCA/Marsh Made in Britain award. Their company, Carréducker makes bespoke shoes using the best materials sourced from British suppliers: lasts from Northampton, oak bark soling leather from Devon, exotics from Walsall, and patterns made and shoes stitched by specialists in Wales, Bristol and London. Their vision is to reignite the British shoe industry.

During the conference, studio potter Lisa Hammond MBE was presented with a certificate to mark her inclusion in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Lisa was also one of the speakers at the conference, as was Kaffe Fassett, worldwide authority on textiles and colour and Dr Alex Langlands BBC TV presenter of historical programmes.

The event, held at The Royal Society of Medicine, brought together craftspeople and enthusiasts from all over the UK to hear from makers, celebrate the best in the country and hear about the HCA’s research into endangered crafts, the Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts.

The Heritage Crafts Awards celebrate and highlight the traditional living crafts made in the UK that contribute to our national heritage. Applications for an HCA/QEST apprenticeship open on 6 June 2017.  Applications for the other awards open on 1 September 2017. For more details about this year’s awards, visit awards.heritagecrafts.org.uk.

Introducing the Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts

Delivered by Greta Bertram, HCA Secretary, at the launch of the Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts, 3 May 2017 at the House of Lords:

Greta Bertram

Photo by Lesley Butterworth

In Cambridge, where I’m lucky enough to live, we are surrounded by beautiful and historic buildings, many of which are unique. If just one of them was threatened with demolition or was allowed to fall into disrepair, people would be up in arms. There would be protests, demonstrations and it would no doubt make the national news.

Within the last ten years, we have lost four of our heritage crafts in the UK. These didn’t hit the headlines, yet these crafts are just as much a part of our rich heritage as our historical buildings. These extinct crafts include gold beating and sieve and riddle making. Only last month the Heritage Crafts Association was asked where British hand-made sieves could be bought, and the answer was, sadly, nowhere.

Historic England has a listing system for historic buildings. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has a red list for endangered species. But this is the first time that anyone has looked at traditional crafts in the UK and identified those most at risk. Generously funded by The Radcliffe Trust, the Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts looks at every single heritage craft taking place in the UK today, focusing on those where there is a significant reliance on hand-work and with high levels of hand skill.

We have looked at 169 crafts in total (although we’re bound to have missed some) and, after careful consideration, have assigned each craft to one of four categories: extinct, critically endangered, endangered and currently viable. Where we didn’t have enough information to make a classification, we put them into a data deficient category.

Seventeen crafts have been identified as critically endangered – this means that they’re at serious risk of becoming extinct. These crafts have very few practitioners, generally spread across just one or two businesses, and usually with no trainees learning the skills. We sincerely hope that none of these seventeen join the four that have already gone.

There is one skilled master vellum and parchment maker in the whole of the UK. There are two skilled clog makers (and there’s currently a revival in clog dancing), and four skilled horse collar makers. There are two businesses making coaches and wagons, one person making fans, and two businesses making hat blocks. There are three people marbling paper (indeed, we heard only heard about the third one last week), and only one piano manufacturer. And there are just a handful of trainees across these seventeen crafts! (All of this information is in your booklets).

So, what are the problems and challenges? Well, they are, typically, many and varied, and often connected. For some crafts it’s an ageing workforce, a shortage of training opportunities or difficulties in recruiting trainees. For others it’s a fluctuating market, competition from overseas or the unwillingness of customers to pay that little bit more for handmade British items. Some crafts have problems with the supply of raw materials and tools (think of all the timber diseases we keep hearing about) and others point out that people just don’t know they still exist. For yet more it’s the myriad obstacles that have to be overcome if you are self-employed (which nearly 80% of craftspeople are) or running a microbusiness.

Sadly there isn’t a magic bullet cure-all solution, but the research has highlighted how precarious the future of all heritage crafts are when they are in the hands of only a few skilled craftspeople.

So, now that we have identified the most critically endangered crafts, and understand more about the challenges they, along with all crafts, are facing, what next?

We feel it’s crucial for the government to clarify the role of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in supporting heritage crafts, as they do for contemporary crafts, and to make the necessary changes. For too long we have been bounced between heritage – which means historic buildings and museums – and arts – things that you can put on a shelf and admire.

In 2003 UNESCO produced a Convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. This focuses not on the physical things like buildings, monuments, and artefacts, but on the non-physical aspects of our heritage like traditional performing arts, festivals, and, importantly for us, craft skills. The UK is one of only 22 countries out of 194 that haven’t ratified the convention, the government saying only that ‘it isn’t their priority’.

We would like to be pro-active in ensuring those seventeen critically endangered crafts don’t become extinct, and also in preventing any other crafts from entering that category. For that, the broader issues of the heritage crafts sector need to be addressed, particularly relating to training, recruitment, and market issues. And that requires proper funding and support.

Finally, this is a significant piece of research which should not be shelved and forgotten. Like Historic England’s listed buildings register, or the red list of endangered species, The Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts needs to be regularly monitored and a thorough (and funded) review conducted every 3–5 years.

We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has supplied information about the crafts, and cannot thank the Radcliffe Trust enough for funding this research, which has enabled us to shine a light on this important part of our shared cultural fabric. We sincerely hope that the Red List will serve as a starting point to encourage future interest and research into heritage crafts, and to ensure that these rich and diverse craft skills carry on into the future.