HCA and Allchurches Trust working together to save endangered heritage crafts

Allchurches Trust

The Heritage Crafts Association (HCA) is delighted to announce that it has received a grant of £12,000 from Allchurches Trust to help save endangered heritage crafts from extinction.

Steve Roche, stonemason and lettercutter (photo by Mark Shenton)

Steve Roche, stonemason and lettercutter (photo by Mark Shenton)

In March 2019, the HCA published the second edition of its groundbreaking HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts, the first research of its kind to rank the UK’s traditional crafts by the likelihood that they will survive into the next generation. The report assessed 212 crafts to ascertain those which are at greatest risk of disappearing, of which four were classified as extinct, 36 as critically endangered, 70 as endangered and 102 as currently viable.

The Allchurches Trust project will be administered through the HCA’s Endangered Crafts Fund, which was launched in July 2019. The first beneficiaries were announced in September. Craftspeople with a proposal for increasing the likelihood of a Red List endangered craft surviving into the next generation can apply at www.heritagecrafts.org.uk/ecf-apply by 29 February 2020.  The chosen proposals will receive funds plus mentoring from the HCA’s Endangered Crafts Officer to help make them a reality.

Patricia Lovett MBE, Chair of the HCA, said:

“The UK has a world-class reputation for conserving and restoring historic buildings and objects. However, we believe that it is equally important to support the skills and knowledge that will not only allow this conservation and restoration to continue, but allow us to make new buildings and objects that will become the heirlooms of the future. We are thrilled to be working with Allchurches Trust to help realise our shared passion for preserving endangered heritage crafts.”

The HCA is one of five partners selected by Allchurches Trust to benefit from its new heritage grants funding programme, which is helping to build and protect sustainable skills to care for the UK and Ireland’s historic environment.

Rachel Whittington, Director of Allchurches Trust, said:

“We’re delighted to provide funding that will help ensure that at-risk traditional crafts can be handed down through the generations, enabling the protection of our past and future heritage. These talented craftspeople are an investment in the future of the sector and we look forward to hearing more about their progress and helping to tell their story.”

For more information about the fund, email HCA Endangered Crafts Officer Mary Lewis at mary@heritagecrafts.org.uk.

Three MBEs awarded to heritage craftspeople

Three of the best heritage craftspeople from across the UK have been awarded MBEs in the New Year Honours List 2020, in recognition of their unparalleled craftsmanship and tireless work in ensuring their skills are passed on to current and future generations.

The three were nominated by the Heritage Crafts Association in this year’s New Year Honours, following 16 previously successful nominations since 2013. Earlier this year, the charitable organisation – which was set up ten years ago to support and champion traditional craft skills – published the latest edition of its groundbreaking HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts, the first report of its kind to rank endangered craft skills by the likelihood they will survive into the next generation.

The three recipients of the MBE are:

  • David A SmithDavid A Smith MBE, for services to reverse glass ornamental artistry – David, from Torquay in Devon, is world-renowned for his high quality reverse glass lettering and artistry – which encompasses all the skills historically done by an array of craftspeople, including design, lettering, acid etching, brilliant cutting, silvering and angel gilding – having revived many of these skills from the point of extinction in the UK. He has had many high-profile commissions in the UK and abroad, including John Meyer, Sony Music, the Victoria & Albert Museum and Disney.
  • Wendy Shorter-Blake demonstrating at the Ideal Home showWendy Shorter-Blake MBE, for services to upholstery – Wendy, from Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire, is not only a highly skilled craftswoman herself but she has devoted her life to ensuring that the skills of upholstery are passed on. Over the last 13 years she has set up a multi-award winning training centre providing the very best possible standards of teaching based on her meticulous research of traditional techniques and the history of furniture. Wendy has also worked closely with the charity Fine Cell Work which offers craft training within prison and ongoing support and training for ex-offenders. In 2020 she will become the third female Master of the Worshipful Company of Upholders.
  • Brian Crossley teachingBrian Crossley MBE, for services to chair caning – Brian, from Tattenhall in Cheshire, has been involved in the endangered craft of chair caning for over 50 years – initially in his spare time, and now full time – having been taught by his mother. He has devoted himself to perfecting and passing on the skills, and is now one of the most revered practitioners in the world, regarded as an expert and ambassador in his field. Brian’s previous career was in civil engineering, and he has provided decades of mentoring and developing others through the Institution of Civil Engineers. He has also been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Bolton for his outstanding contribution to the field of construction.

HCA Chair Patricia Lovett MBE said:

“While countries like Japan and Korea have National Living Treasures schemes to celebrate master craftspeople, the UK as yet has no equivalent way of recognising our most highly skilled makers – and is one of only 15 of the 193 UNESCO member states yet to ratify the 2003 Convention on the Safeguarding of Intangible Heritage. We are delighted therefore that these talented individuals, who give so much of themselves to ensure that their crafts continue, have been recognised through the honours system, putting traditional craftspeople up there with other great luminaries of public life.”

The HCA encourages anyone who supports the continuation of traditional craft skills, whether or not they are makers themselves, to become HCA members. It has set up an Endangered Crafts Fund to provide small grants to projects that increase the likelihood of endangered craft skills surviving into the next generation, and is currently seeking donations to save more of Britain’s most endangered crafts from oblivion – www.heritagecrafts.org.uk/ecf.

Press releases:

 

More details about each recipient

 

David A Smith MBE, for services to reverse glass ornamental artistry

David, from Torquay in Devon, is world-renowned for his high quality reverse glass lettering and artistry – which encompasses all the skills historically done by an array of craftspeople, including design, lettering, acid etching, brilliant cutting, silvering and angel gilding – having revived many of these skills from the point of extinction in the UK. He has had many high-profile commissions in the UK and abroad, including John Meyer, Sony Music, the Victoria & Albert Museum and Disney.

David has taught over 800 students (500 from abroad) and is the only practitioner able to teach such a broad range of skills, hence his craft being categorised as critically endangered in the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts. Many hundreds of students have been able to benefit directly from the classes he teaches, both in his studio and in other countries. Many thousands more benefit from his regular online presence, where he shows examples of his work in process and gives pointers, advice and, most of all, provides encouragement to students and design enthusiasts worldwide.

David’s knowledge is extensive, and yet he still seeks out obscure processes from days gone by to enrich his craft and pass the information on to others, inspiring a new generation to the value of craftsmanship and artistry.

Wendy Shorter-Blake MBE, for services to upholstery

Wendy, from Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire, is not only a highly skilled craftswoman herself but she has devoted her life to ensuring that the skills of upholstery are passed on. Over the last 13 years she has set up a multi-award winning training centre providing the very best possible standards of teaching based on her meticulous research of traditional techniques and the history of furniture.

Wendy was appointed Director of Training (a voluntary position) for the Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers (AMUSF) in 2008, putting her at the forefront of training provision and development of the Association’s qualification standards. In the last three years she has developed those standards into the current Diploma course, thus ensuring that hundreds of students can attain the highest level of qualification in the craft. She promoted a schools programme where sixth-formers from local schools were given the opportunity to train for an upholstery qualification, and personally sponsored one school leaver for more advanced training.

Wendy has also worked closely with the charity Fine Cell Work which offers craft training within prison and ongoing support and training for ex-offenders. In 2020 she will become the third female Master of the Worshipful Company of Upholders.

Brian Crossley MBE, for services to chair caning

Brian, from Tattenhall in Cheshire, has been involved in the endangered craft of chair caning for over 50 years – initially in his spare time, and now full time – having been taught by his mother. He has devoted himself to perfecting and passing on the skills, and is now one of the most revered practitioners in the world, regarded as an expert and ambassador in his field. He is the go-to craftsman for prestigious museums and antique collectors to repair and re-cane their furniture, including the Ruskin Museum where he re-caned John Ruskin’s very own high chair.

Brian was a founder Trustee of the Heritage Crafts Association nine years ago, and its first Secretary, setting up the Association such that it had sound governance and a solid foundation for the future. He is a strong advocate for craft, being a great ambassador for both chair caning and heritage crafts in general. His unique skills as a maker, teacher and researcher have been recognised by the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers, of which he is a Yeoman.

Brian’s previous career was in civil engineering, and he has provided decades of mentoring and developing others through the Institution of Civil Engineers. He rose from Chair of a regional committee to eventually Vice President of the Institution for four years, responsible for standards of civil engineering in many countries. From 2002 to 2013 he volunteered for the Historical Engineering Group, researching and preserving unique past engineering works. In 2001 he won the Garth Watson medal, the highest award for service to the Institute. He has also been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Bolton for his outstanding contribution to the field of construction.

Craft Uprising! – The Heritage Crafts Association Conference 2020

Craft Uprising! – The Heritage Crafts Association Conference 2020

When: Saturday 4 April 2020, 10am registration to 4.30pm
Where: Oxford Town Hall, St Aldate’s, Oxford OX1 1BX

Patrick Grant

At a time when populism has pushed mainstream politics to the extremes and climate change has reached a critical tipping point, craft is occupying an increasingly crucial role – to engage with those we disagree with or to take refuge within our communities of interest, to reflect the counter-cultures happening around us or to become that vital act of rebellion.

The theme of the 2020 Heritage Crafts Association Conference is Craft Uprising. The keynote speakers will be Patrick Grant (Great British Sewing Bee) talking about disrupting the fast-fashion industry with his social enterprise Community Clothing and Sarah Corbett from the Craftivist Collective talking about the role of craft in change-making.

As well as the main programme of speakers you will also have the opportunity to print your own rebellious messages with Nick Hand‘s letterpress bicycle, bring your craft items for a pop-up gallery on the theme of ‘Powerful Objects’, and network with other makers from around the UK.

 

Programme

Tickets cost £28 for HCA members and £38 for non-members, with discounts if you become a member at the time of purchase, bring a friend or are a student. In addition, 20 bursary places have been made available to those who would otherwise struggle to attend – for availability please email mary@heritagecrafts.org.uk.

 

Pop-up exhibition – Powerful Objects

In a gentle way you can shake the worldWe will be holding a pop-up exhibition of members and attendees work entitled ‘Powerful Objects’. This theme can be interpreted in many ways, from craft objects that have an overtly powerful message to those whose meaning resonates on a much more personal level (not forgetting that the personal is invariably political in its own way). Meanings can be made explicit or remain the maker’s own, open to interpretation.

If you wish to submit an object that you have made, please email events@heritagecrafts.org.uk with a title and 200 word description, and, if selected, we’ll get back to you with the practicalities of how the exhibition will be run.

 

Buy tickets

Meghan sees us through our first ten years!

In March 2010 we accepted our first ever member, Meghan Purvis, who remains a member to this day! Meghan says:

Meghan Purvis“I actually knew already that I was member #1; it’s been a point of pride for me! Rarely has being a night owl paid off so handsomely; I was up late one night and saw a Guardian article about the HCA being formed, and so clicked through to join, apparently before anyone else. I joined the HCA as a very enthusiastic amateur, and I’m rather pleased to say that that’s where I remain, albeit an amateur across more disciplines! I’ve been knitting for the last twenty years, but thanks to the HCA I’ve also explored spinning, embroidery, basket weaving, and spoon carving. Each time I try a new craft, I’m reminded of the dedication and skill of heritage crafts, and I’m so grateful to the HCA and the people in it for sharing their knowledge and artistry. I hadn’t realised it had been ten years already, though; congratulations to all of you!”

To become a member like Meghan, join up today.

We have been counting down some of the highlights of our first ten years on social media.

Five grants awarded to help save endangered crafts

Richard Wheater teaching the craft of neon bending.

Richard Wheater teaching the craft of neon bending. Photo © Richard Wheater.

A new mobile facility to teach neon bending and the restoration of one of the last surviving damask looms are among the projects that have recently received funds to help ensure a better future for some of the UK’s most endangered crafts.

The Heritage Crafts Association (HCA), which earlier this year published the latest edition of its groundbreaking HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts, has awarded the first five grants from its Endangered Crafts Fund, launched in July 2019 to increase the likelihood of endangered crafts surviving into the next generation.

The first five recipients of the HCA Endangered Crafts Fund are:

  • Grace Horne, scissor maker – to create dies for the production of hot drop-forged scissor blanks that can be used by Grace and other makers to produce bespoke scissors.
  • Deborah White, damask weaver – to restore and use a loom to teach damask weaving to a new generation of weavers.
  • Clare Revera, basket maker – to develop and teach a Level 3 City & Guilds course on rare and endangered basket making skills at Westhope College.
  • Richard Wheater, neon bender – to build a mobile neon bombarding and vacuum facility to teach neon bending to beginners and intermediate trainees.
  • Kate Colin, fan maker – to develop the technical skills of fan making with a view to teaching the craft in future.

The fund was hugely oversubscribed and the HCA hopes to work with many of the unsuccessful candidates to identify other funding and support opportunities.

HCA Endangered Crafts Officer Mary Lewis said:

“We have been overwhelmed by so many wonderful applications and while we wish we had the funds to support them all, we are delighted to have been able to choose projects that we hope will provide future generations with an array of craft skills to which they might not otherwise have access.”

The Endangered Crafts Fund has been set up thanks to a number of generous donations from individuals, from as little as £5 right up to several thousands of pounds. The HCA is now seeking further donations to save even more of Britain’s most endangered crafts from oblivion.

Donations to the Endangered Crafts Fund are welcome at any time – for more information visit www.heritagecrafts.org.uk/ecf. Applications for grants are accepted on a rolling basis, with the next deadline for consideration 29 February 2020. For more information about the fund, email HCA Endangered Crafts Officer Mary Lewis at mary@heritagecrafts.org.uk.

Apply to the Endangered Crafts Fund

Last making

Endangered craft of last making. Photo by Steven Lowe.

The Heritage Crafts Association is inviting craft practitioners and organisations in the UK to apply for small grants to fund projects that support and promote endangered crafts (the craft must be listed as endangered or critically endangered on the current Red List of Endangered Crafts).

There is a maximum of £2,000 available for each project and we will work with you to develop and support your work.

For example, this may include:

  • training for yourself to learn a new craft or technique;
  • training for an apprentice so that you can pass on skills and knowledge;
  • specialist equipment that will enable you to practice a craft or add a new product to your business;
  • materials and equipment to start running workshops; or
  • innovative approaches to supporting and promoting endangered crafts.

In addition to the funding you will also receive support from the Endangered Crafts Officer and the Heritage Crafts Association team to ensure that your project is a success. This will be unique to your project but it could include mentor support, business support or signposting to other opportunities.

To apply please fill in an Expression of Interest form and we will call you back to discuss your project. Please note that this is a competitive process and not all projects will receive funding. Successful applicants must join the HCA (£20 a year for individuals) if they are not already members.

Download an Expression of Interest form here

If you would like to talk to us about your project or would like to check your eligibility to apply please email Mary Lewis at mary@heritagecrafts.org.uk. Alternatively, if you would like to make a donation to the Endangered Crafts Fund, please click here.

Supported by: The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund, Ernest Cook Trust and the generous support of individual donors and HCA members.