Winners of the 2018 Heritage Crafts Awards

Alex Langlands and Hilary Burns

Maker of the Year Hilary Burns being presented with her award by HCA Patron Alex Langlands

Basket maker Hilary Burns has been named Maker of the Year in the 2018 Heritage Crafts Awards. Hilary won the award in recognition of her work on numerous projects that have put British basket making and heritage crafts at the centre of public consciousness.

Projects include ‘Baskets of the British Isles’, an installation of 52 styles of traditional British baskets hanging over the lobby bar of the Whitby Hotel in Manhattan, the ‘Our House’ project at Selfridges, and a unique class in pigeon basket making for the University of Hertfordshire’s Basketry ‘Then and Now’ project, which looked at the role of basketry in World War One.

Maker of the Year was one of six awards presented at the Heritage Crafts Association’s (HCA) annual conference, Crafts for the Future, at the Royal Society of Medicine on 24 March.

Green woodworker Steve Tomlin won the HCA/Marsh Endangered Craft Award. This new award, set up with the support of the Marsh Christian Trust, recognises a practitioner of one of the 62 crafts currently listed in the ‘critically endangered’ or ‘endangered’ categories of the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts. Steve, a spoon carver, ash basket maker and scything tutor will use his award to learn to make Devon stave baskets (maunds), a critically endangered craft with no current practitioners or trainees.

Devon-based Green Shoes was awarded the HCA/Marsh ‘Made in Britain’ Award. Started in 1981 by a group of young women passionate about making strong, beautiful, long-lasting shoes, the business has been listed in the top 15 shoemakers in the world for its ethical standards.

HCA/Marsh Trainer of the Year is bookbinder Kathy Abbott. Kathy currently teaches advanced level Fine-Binding in Vellum at City Lit in London as well as giving one-to-one fine-binding workshops across the UK.

The Marsh Volunteer of the Year Award went to Suzy Bennett for her work creating the Dartmoor Artisan Trail. Suzy set up the trail to provide rural craft businesses with a new income from tourism, spending 18 months working on the project on a voluntary basis. The trail was named by the Daily Telegraph as one of the UK’s best travel experiences of 2017.

Paper maker Zoe Collis won The Arts Society/HCA Heritage Crafts bursary which she will use to continue her training at Two Rivers Paper in Somerset. Zoe, a former participant in the HCA’s pre-apprenticeship project funded by the Ernest Cook Trust, was one of only a few successful applicants on the national paper making Trailblazer apprenticeship scheme. She will use the bursary to help pay for the costs of her qualification, which is only part-funded by the government.

During the conference, vellum maker Wim Visscher MBE, rush worker Felicity Irons BEM and flint knapper John Lord BEM were awarded with certificates to mark their inclusion in The Queen’s Birthday Honours Lists in 2017. All three were nominated for their awards by the Heritage Crafts Association.

Speakers at the conference included ceramics producer Emma Bridgewater, TV presenter Paul Martin, and Sam Walton, creative director of Hole and Corner magazine. The event, which focused this year on the future of heritage crafts, brought together craftspeople and enthusiasts from all over the UK to hear from makers and celebrate the best in the country.

The Heritage Crafts Awards celebrate and highlight the traditional living crafts made in the UK that contribute to our national heritage. Applications for the next round of awards and bursaries open on 1 September. For more details about this year’s awards, visit awards.heritagecrafts.org.uk.

Making It! The HCA and QEST at the Worshipful Company of Carpenters

Making It! The HCA and QEST at the Worshipful Company of Carpenters

The Carpenters’ Company, 1 Throgmorton Avenue, London EC2N 2JJ
Exhibition: 9 May 2018, 11am to 2.30pm – no booking required
Talk: 9 May 2018, 3pm to 4pm – booking necessary via Eventbrite
Drinks reception: 9 May 2018, 5pm to 7pm – booking necessary via events@qest.org.uk

Join craftspeople from the Heritage Crafts Association and QEST demonstrating an array of skills with opportunities for visitors to join in. Demonstrators include 2017 HCA Maker of the Year fore-edge painter Martin Frost and 2017 Cockpit / The Arts Society Award winner paper marbler Lucy McGrath (pictured), both Red List critically endangered crafts.

At 3pm furniture maker and designer John Makepeace OBE will give a talk on how he made the Master’s Chair for the Worshipful Company of Carpenters, followed by a champagne reception providing a further opportunity to interact with these exceptionally talented makers.

www.londoncraftweek.com/events/making-it-qest-and-hca-worshipful-company-carpenters

Endangered Crafts project with Manchester School of Art

MSA Image 2

BA (Hons) Textile in Practice students documenting drawings and textile samples

The Heritage Crafts Association is delighted to be working with Manchester School of Art on its forthcoming project, Endangered Crafts. Over the next nine weeks, students from across the Faculty of Art and Design are being challenged to respond to the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts. The list will be used by students as the starting point for creative response. Students will be tasked with developing contemporary objects, artefacts and artworks in response to the heritage craft skills, materials and processes identified in the Red List. It is also anticipated that students will draw out some of the rich heritage craft stories and narratives, as well as highlighting some of the pressing issues that place traditional skills under such threat.

MSA Image 1

Material investigations, BA (Hons) Three Dimensional Design

Manchester School of Art’s Unit X is an award-winning unit of study that brings together students from across the Faculty of Art and Design in collaborative activity. Working with external partners, Unit X provides an opportunity for students to experience real world scenarios through collaboration with external agencies. This year, the Endangered Crafts project brings together students from Three Dimensional Design, Textiles in Practice, Fine Art, Interactive Arts, Filmmaking, Interior Design and Fashion. Throughout the project, students will work in design teams, utilising skills already gained in ceramics, glass, metalwork, product design and digital design, as well as weave, print, embroidery, painting, sculpture and film making, to develop their projects. Outcomes are expected to be varied, vibrant and innovative; challenging creative norms and establishing new approaches to contemporary object making that is part of Manchester School of Art’s own rich heritage.

The project will be launched on Monday 5 March 2018 with a keynote lecture delivered by HCA Trustee Greta Bertram, who will return in May to see the exhibition of final outcomes.

Unit X website | Unit X blog | Unit X Twitter | BA (Hons) Three Dimensional Design blog

HCA project participant Zoe set for a career in papermaking

Zoe Collis

Zoe Collis, new apprentice at Two Rivers Paper Mill

When we set out on our Ernest Cook Trust funded Countryside Crafts Pre-apprenticeship project last year our main aim was to trial low-risk opportunities for heritage crafts businesses and young people to come together to explore the possibility of apprenticeship-style training. It was founded on the premise that while many heritage crafts businesses know that their long-term sustainability depends on taking on young people, when they are working hard to make ends meet then investing the time in a young person they don’t know can be a risk if there’s a chance it might not go anywhere.

We are delighted therefore that not only have we had the chance to trial these kind of encounters and have written a guidance document for other organisations who wish to do similar (available here), but amazingly one of our placements has resulted in a full-time apprenticeship for Zoe Collis at Two Rivers Paper Mill on Exmoor in Somerset.

Zoe will be one of a select few nationally to be taking part in the Crafts Trailblazer scheme for paper making, a three-year programme incorporating on-the-job training, day release at a local college to achieve Performing Engineering Operations accreditation and a bespoke model of Business Improvement Techniques. There will be six visits over two years to other mills around the country to receive the final Level 3 qualification. Two Rivers Paper owner Jim Patterson said:

We have seen the future… and it ‘s called Zoe… I’m really pleased with the way [she] is settling in. Gaining in confidence, starting to work independently and beginning to make a real contribution.

We are so grateful to the Ernest Cook Trust for funding this project, without which this opportunity would never have come about, and Project Manager Tracy Hill for delivering such a good outcome. We look forward to following Zoe through her new career as a paper maker!

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.

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.