Once in a lifetime opportunity to become the next in a historic line of chair makers

Once in a lifetime opportunity to become the next in a historic line of chair makers

An amazing opportunity has come up for two people to learn from one of the country’s top traditional craftspeople and carry forward an important traditional craft.

Lawrence Neal has spent his life making rush seated chairs, a trade he learned from his father Neville, who in turn learned from Edward Gardiner. Gardiner had learned from the famous architect and designer Ernest Gimson who had was taught by country chairmaker Philip Clissett. Lawrence is now approaching retirement and is looking to pass on his skills, knowledge and tools many of which were originally owned by Gimson.

Heritage Crafts Association supporter Hugo Burge has taken a personal interest in Lawrence’s chairs and is going to fund the training process for Lawrence to pass his skills on. Not only that but once the successful new chairmakers are trained he can provide a workshop and subsidised accommodation on the Marchmont Estate in Scotland… all-in-all a once in a lifetime opportunity for the right person.

Hugo said:

“I fell in love with the Ernest Gimson’s Bedales Library and its chairs over 20 years ago when I bought six Bedales chairs from Lawrence Neal in 1994. Much more recently, I have been working with Lawrence Neal, who continues to make rush seated chairs today in a 100 year tradition from Ernest Gimson, still using Gimson’s tools. We are now looking for two individuals to learn from Lawrence directly (as apprentices), in Stockton, Warwickshire for one to two years, before moving the whole workshop up to Marchmont House stables in Berwickshire to let Lawrence retire and take the business forwards within a charitable structure.

The business will generate a good living and offers the opportunity to grow and evolve, with an incredible lineage, using the actual tools of Ernest Gimson from Daneway – one of Britain’s greatest architect designers and pioneers of The Arts and Crafts Movement. There will be a base salary and the opportunity to grow your income, taking subsidised accommodation on the Marchmont Estate when you establish the workshop. This is a unique opportunity to build and create a new legacy; a new chapter of chairmaking – it will require commitment and long term dedication, so will be highly selective and not for everyone, but for two people with a real passion for taking the legacy of this traditional process into the twenty first century…..it will be ideal”

If you think this may suit you, contact the Heritage Crafts Association administrator.

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!

Crafts for the Future – HCA Conference 2018

Crafts for the Future – HCA Conference 2018

  • Saturday 24 March 2018
  • Royal Society of Medicine, Wimpole Street, London

We are pleased to announce that HCA Patron and ceramics producer Emma Bridgewater will be amongst our keynote speakers at our 2018 conference Crafts for the Future. After lunch we will be celebrating the winners and runners up of this year’s Heritage Crafts Awards sponsored and funded by QEST, The Arts Society and the Marsh Christian Trust. In the afternoon session we’ll be hearing from selected makers on the HCA/Radcliffe Red List of Endangered Crafts.

Keynote speakers

  • Emma Bridgewater, ceramics producer and HCA Patron
  • Sam Walton, Hole & Corner magazine
  • Paul Martin, TV presenter and HCA Patron

Afternoon speakers from the HCA Radcliffe Red List critically endangered category:

  • Martin Frost, fore-edge painter
  • Skelton Saws. saw makers
  • Wim Visscher, parchmenter
  • Jojo Wood, apprentice clog maker and wood worker
  • Jacob Moss, curator of the Fan Museum

Download the full programme here

 

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.