Catherine Ade, lithographer. Photo copyright Jo Hounsome.
A lithographer, a wallpaper maker and an oak bark tanner are among the recipients of the latest round of grants awarded to help safeguard some of the UK’s most endangered craft skills.
The Heritage Crafts Association (HCA), which published the third edition of its groundbreaking HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts in May, has awarded a further eight grants from its Endangered Crafts Fund, which was launched in 2019 to increase the likelihood of endangered crafts surviving into the next generation.
This round of the HCA Endangered Crafts Fund has been offered with support from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Dulverton Trust, the Sussex Heritage Trust, Allchurches Trust and the Swire Charitable Trust. The eight successful recipients are:
Catherine Ade, from Bristol, to run a series of workshops on different lithography techniques and continue to supply lithography plate graining services.
Peter Ananin, from Fife, to train an apprentice in the skills and knowledge of traditional Scottish bark tanning.
Deborah Bowness, from East Sussex, to learn traditional wallpaper making techniques through one-to-one training with a wallpaper conservationist.
Rachel Evans, from Stoke-on-Trent, to learn the techniques of hazel basketmaking, specifically the Gower cockle basket and the whisket.
Nikki Laird, from Edinburgh, to print a book on how to make a traditional hand sewn kilt.
Kate Longley, from Cornwall, to maintain the skills and knowledge of withy crab and lobster pot making in the community of Gorran Haven.
Steven Lowe, from East Sussex, to provide shoe last making courses covering heel making.
Edie Obilaso, from London, to make hats from straw plait produced on an antique machine, and to document the craft.
Peter Ananin, oak bark tanner. Photo copyright Woodland Tannery.
These eight projects follow 27 awarded in previous rounds, covering endangered crafts such as scissor making, sail making, damask weaving, boot tree making, cockle basket making, folding knife making, neon bending, coracle making, fan making and swill basket making, coppersmithing, withy pot making, disappearing fore-edge painting, plane making, kishie basket making, flint walling, brick making, chair seating, lipwork basketry, paper making, concertina making and flute making.
As usual the fund was oversubscribed, and the HCA hopes to work with many of the unsuccessful candidates to identify other funding and support opportunities.
HCA Endangered Crafts Manager Mary Lewis said:
“For all the progress we’ve made, it will take more than just the Heritage Crafts Association to save craft skills; it will be the people who make a positive choice to learn, make and teach an endangered craft who will do that. These projects will provide future generations with opportunities that they might not otherwise have, to become productive and healthy members of our shared craft community.”
The Endangered Crafts Fund has been funded through generous donations from organisations including Garfield Weston Foundation, the Dulverton Trust, the Sussex Heritage Trust, as well as individuals who have donated sums from £5 right up to several thousands of pounds.
The HCA continues to seek further donations to save even more of Britain’s most endangered crafts from oblivion. Donations are welcome at any time – for more information visit www.heritagecrafts.org.uk/ecf.
Craig and Rebecca Struthers. Photo by Richard Ivey.
Birmingham-based watchmaker Rebecca Struthers has won the 2021 HCA President’s Award for Endangered Crafts. The prestigious award, and £3,000 bursary, was initiated by Heritage Crafts Association President HRH The Prince of Wales.
The HCA was set up 11 years ago as a national charity to support and safeguard heritage crafts skills, and has become well known for its Red List of Endangered Crafts, the first research of its kind to rank traditional crafts in the UK by the likelihood they would survive the next generation.
The President’s Award trophy was presented to Dr Struthers at a special presentation on Friday 10 September 2021, hosted by The Prince’s Foundation, one of the country’s major providers of training in traditional building skills. The Prince of Wales was in attendance at the presentation, which also saw a trophy awarded to 2020 winners, Paul Jacobs and Jonathan Reid from Ernest Wright Scissors, whose presentation was unable to proceed last year due to COVID restrictions.
HCA President’s Award
Between 1630 and 1890, England was the centre of global watchmaking, home to many of the world’s most celebrated watchmakers. By 1793, twenty thousand London watchmakers were part of the city’s population of one million inhabitants, representing around one fiftieth of the population. Today watchmaking is listed as critically endangered on the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts.
Dr Rebecca Struthers is Director and watchmaker of a traditional watchmaking workshop and studio in Birmingham alongside husband and fellow master watchmaker Craig. They use traditional methods, materials and techniques in the restoration of vintage and antique watches as well as the production of her own timepieces. She is the first, and currently only, watchmaker in the UK to earn a PhD in horology.
Award winners with HRH The Prince of Wales. Photo by Richard Ivey.
Dr Struthers is a Fellow of the British Horological Institute and Royal Society of Arts, a Trustee of the Museum of Timekeeping in Newark, and a Jury Member of the Academy, Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève. She has received over a dozen awards over the years for her craft, design, entrepreneurship and research, and her work has appeared in a range of media including the BBC, New York Times and Wall Street Journal. She is currently writing a non-fiction book for Hodder & Stoughton on the history of time, told through watches, and the way in which they have influenced societies and cultures around the world.
Dr Struthers plans to use the prize to create a free-to-use educational website for anyone with an interest in learning the art of watchmaking. It would list training opportunities and facilities, and allow people to share projects they are currently working on and seek advice and feedback from a watchmaking community. It would also share useful technical information and charts, articles, a reference library and short videos on her own techniques for others to learn from.
Winner Dr Rebecca Struthers said:
“As independent makers the high costs of training a full-time apprentice means that even if it were possible, the apprentice’s pay would be so low that it would be prohibitive to people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. The President’s Award has provided us with the foundation to start something we hope will help to break down these boundaries and allow us to share what we do for free, in a manageable way for us. To have such a prestigious beginning for this project is an invaluable start!”
HCA Chair Patricia Lovett MBE said:
“Many people know HRH The Prince of Wales as being a long-time supporter and champion of traditional craft skills, and his passion is all too evident through initiatives such as the HCA President’s Award and The Prince’s Foundation. Dr Struthers and Ernest Wright Scissors are immensely deserving winners and we know that in their hands the prizes will provide a massive boost to the outlook of these critically endangered crafts.”
Jonathan Reid and Paul Jacobs from Ernest Wright Scissors. Photo by Richard Ivey.
2020 winner Ernest Wright scissor makers was founded in 1902 and reflects everything Sheffield has become famous for – highly skilled craftspeople making supreme quality products.
Following a tragedy in 2018, the company went into receivership and the critically endangered craft of scissor making was on the verge of disappearing from Sheffield. Paul Jacobs and Jan Bart Fanoy took action and bought the company, re-hired the remaining master putter-togetherers, Cliff Denton and Eric Stones, and took on several ‘putters’ in training. The factory is now back in action, with the prize used to repair machinery so that their putter-in-training can learn the craft from Cliff and Eric.
Where: William Morris Gallery, Lloyd Park, Forest Road, London E17 4PP When: 28 September to 3 October 2021
The Black Artisans is a new photography exhibition that will celebrate twenty four UK Black makers and craftspeople, capturing traditional sectors of UK heritage crafts alongside areas of cultural heritage.
There are many Black artisans operating in the UK, though they are rarely seen. The Black Artisans photography exhibition project aims to showcase this talent and also hear about their routes into their chosen profession through a series of artisan lectures that will be made available to schools and colleges for further education purposes.
Photographer Jo Sealy is aiming to show the breadth of Black artisans operating in the UK today:
“The artisans already on board include sculptors and steel pan makers, stonemasons and instrument makers – to name a few. Some are working beyond the boundaries of the world of UK crafts. Their skills, experience and talent deserve to be recognised.”
Jo is collaborating with the Heritage Crafts Association to deliver the series of workshops that will share the knowledge and skills associated with traditional artisanry and cultural heritage. Daniel Carpenter, HCA Operations Director, said:
“We are delighted to be involved in this project to celebrate the fantastic skills of Black craftspeople, to redress the imbalance of representation, and to provide role models to inspire a greater diversity of young people into traditional crafts.”
Furniture restorer and television presenter Jay Blades MBE will introduce the workshop series:
“The UK has some amazingly talented artisans and within this is a wealth of Black artisans who are operating right across the UK in both traditional and more culturally focused heritage crafts areas. Their skills, achievements and paths into these areas are currently under acknowledged. The Black Artisans photography project and its workshops will open up all of the joy and opportunities to a wider, diverse community, which is something that I am more than happy to support.”
The Black Artisans will launch at the William Morris Gallery in East London, 28 September to 3 October 2021, before touring in central London and the Midlands.
The Black Artisans is funded by a Waltham Forest Council, Make It Happen grant, awarded to arts and culture projects across the borough and building on the work of Waltham Forest as the Mayor’s first London Borough of Culture.
Designer Rose Uniacke has partnered with the Heritage Crafts Association (HCA) to create ‘Remnant Weave’, a new fabric remnants collection, the profits of which will be donated to help safeguard endangered artisanal and craft skills in the UK.
Rose Uniacke has long been committed to championing traditional skills and craftspeople. Over the years, she has nurtured relationships with an exceptional group of highly skilled artisans and craftspeople who have the experience, virtuosity and sensitivity to interpret her designs.
Research published by the HCA in May 2021 showed that Covid-19 has exacerbated the issues faced by our most at-risk craft skills, after 18 months of the pandemic which saw many craftspeople and their businesses pushed to the brink of collapse.
The new ‘Remnant Weave’ cushions are handwoven in the UK with Rose Uniacke fabric remnants. The inner pads are handmade with 100% British wool, which is a natural, eco-friendly and healthy alternative to hollowfibre and feather fillings. As they are made with remnants, the colours and textures of the cushions on sale will change according to the materials available at the time.
The HCA Red List of Endangered Craftsnow lists 56 crafts as critically endangered, including damask weaving, fabric pleating using moulds, and frame knitting, meaning that they are at serious risk of no longer being practised in the UK. A further 74 are listed as endangered; there are enough craftspeople to transmit their skills to the next generation, but there are serious concerns about their ongoing viability.
All profits from the sale of the Remnant Weave collection will be donated to the HCA to help support and promote traditional crafts in the UK. Members of the public can also donate directly to support the HCA’s work at heritagecrafts.org.uk/donate.
Rose Uniacke said:
“Now more than ever, the survival of small artisanal businesses is under threat, and with them the traditions and skills of hand-built craftsmanship which they keep alive. I am delighted to be working with the Heritage Crafts Association to help ensure these crafts are available to the next generation.
Daniel Carpenter, HCA Operations Director, said:
“We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Rose Uniacke on a project that combines sustainability, design and an appreciation of craft skill. We know that the future is going to be beset with global challenges, and we strongly believe that our repository of skills and knowledge will play a vital part in helping future generations tackle them. We cannot afford to lose them now.”
‘Remnant Weave’ cushions and wall hanging are available to purchase at www.roseuniacke.com with prices starting from £420.
About Rose Uniacke:
Rose Uniacke is an architectural and interior designer, antiques dealer and furniture designer who has garnered a world-class reputation for her signature aesthetic that is unrivalled in its quiet simplicity, sensitivity, and sophistication. A master of space and light, Uniacke restores, remodels and restructures rooms and buildings, often stripping a structure back to its bare bones, balancing texture, scale, and proportion for an inimitable level of refinement.
From concept to completion, Uniacke works closely with skilled craftspeople to ensure a space is as inviting as it is functional, combining a richness of character, with warmth, serenity, and timeless elegance. Uniacke began her career at a furniture-restoration workshop, sparking an interest in antiques and furniture that would lay the foundation for her career. A move to France in 1994 saw Uniacke begin to really hone her craft and eye as she started to buy antiques to sell in her mother’s store, the antiques dealer Hilary Batstone.
Several years later, back in England, Uniacke was asked to help design a home; informed by an innate appreciation for classic design, Uniacke embarked on her first design project.
Uniacke and her team now work on a broad portfolio of projects internationally, from London villas and apartments, to listed manor houses and global company headquarters, all for a varied yet discerning client base. The Rose Uniacke team is based in Pimlico, central London, in spacious premises that serves as a gallery which sells antiques and Rose Uniacke pieces and, below stairs – the project and product design studio.
In 2010 Rose Uniacke launched Rose Uniacke Editions, a collection of furniture, lighting, and accessories. The collection was the organic solution to Rose’s own personal hunt for elegant and distinctive items for her own home. When clients asked for similar pieces, it was a natural progression for her to produce them. Today the range continues to grow and calls upon the finest contemporary craftspeople to create the collection. In 2017, the Rose Uniacke offer expanded with the launch of Rose Uniacke Fabric Collection, a unique collection of custom-dyed cloth, in Uniacke’s distinctive colour palette. Beautifully understated and above all functional, the collection is suitable for upholstery, furnishings, wall coverings and drapery. Now coveted globally, the collection embodies the company’s driving ethical and environmental ethos, using almost entirely natural fibres and sustainable production methods.
Autumn 2021 will see Uniacke open the doors to a new shop, her second, on the Pimlico Road, located opposite the existing Rose Uniacke Gallery. The new space, set over two floors, will be devoted to textiles, housing the expansive RU Fabric collection on the ground floor and a curated selection of table, kitchen and bed linen and cashmere – plus the brand’s new range of environmentally conscious paints – downstairs.
Rose Uniacke Editions which spans furniture, lighting, and gifts – plus Rose’s expert curation of antiques – will continue to be available at the Rose Uniacke Gallery, 76-84 Pimlico Road and online at roseuniacke.com.
About the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts
The 2021 edition of the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts was led by Mary Lewis, HCA Endangered Crafts Manager, supported by the Pilgrim Trust. The project runs alongside Mary’s work in identifying and developing interventions to improve the prospects of such crafts, funded by The Swire Charitable Trust, The Garfield Weston Foundation and The Dulverton Trust.
For the 2021 edition, 244 crafts have been assessed to identify those which are at greatest risk of disappearing. Of the 134 crafts featured on the Red List, four have been classified as extinct, 56 as critically endangered and 74 as endangered. The remaining 110 are classed as currently viable.
Drawing on information such as the current number of craftspeople and trainees, the average age of practitioners, opportunities to learn, and other issues affecting the future of the crafts, including the impact of COVID-19, the research assesses how likely it is that the craft skills will be passed on to the next generation. From armour making and arrowsmithing to wig making and woodturning, each has been assigned to one of four categories: extinct, critically endangered, endangered, or currently viable.
Four crafts are known to have become extinct in the UK in the last fifteen years (cricket ball making, gold beating, lacrosse stick making, and paper mould and deckle making) with one more (sieve and riddle making) brought back from extinction. At the other end of the spectrum, viable crafts are defined as those for which there are sufficient craftspeople to pass on the craft skills to the next generation, though crafts in the currently viable category face real challenges and require continued monitoring.
For the purposes of this research, a heritage craft is defined as “a practice which employs manual dexterity and skill and an understanding of traditional materials, design and techniques, and which has been practised for two or more successive generations.” The research focuses on craft practices which are taking place in the UK today, including crafts which have originated elsewhere.
The Heritage Crafts Association’s Endangered Crafts Fund was set up in 2019 to ensure that the most at-risk heritage crafts within the UK are given the support they need to thrive. The Fund is used to support makers and trainees who wish to develop or share their skills in the crafts that have been identified as being most at risk.
To date, 27 projects have been funded with support from the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Dulverton Trust, the Sussex Heritage Trust, Allchurches Trust, the Radcliffe Trust and the Swire Charitable Trust.
Anyone wishing to donate to the fund may do so securely online here. Alternatively, please send a cheque made payable to ‘Heritage Crafts Association’ with an accompanying note specifying ‘Endangered Crafts Fund’ to: Heritage Crafts Association, 27 South Road, Oundle, Peterborough PE8 4BU.
The President’s Award for Endangered Crafts was established in 2020 by Heritage Crafts Association President HRH The Prince of Wales. Each year the President’s Award presents £3,000 to a heritage craftsperson who will use the funding to ensure that craft skills are passed on to the future.
The Heritage Crafts Association (HCA) published the latest edition of its groundbreaking HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts in 2019, which revealed that there are 107 endangered crafts in the UK. Crafts deemed critically endangered range from bell founding and damask weaving to orrery making and reverse glass sign painting. Other endangered crafts include a number of musical instrument making crafts, including brass, woodwind and percussion instruments, harps and Northumbrian pipes.
The President’s Award will be presented at a special reception at Dumfries House, home of The Prince’s Foundation, as well as at a prestigious winners’ reception at the Houses of Parliament.
The Award judges are renowned advocates of craft skills:
Jay Blades, BBC The Repair Shop, Jay & Co;
Kate Hobhouse, Chair of Fortnum and Mason;
Paul Jacobs, Co-Owner of Ernest Wight scissor makers
Patricia Lovett MBE, Chair of the Heritage Crafts Association; and
Simon Sadinsky, Deputy Director of The Prince’s Foundation.
HCA Chair Patricia Lovett said:
“The UK has a hugely rich cultural heritage of craft skills which can be regarded as important as our great historical buildings and treasured objects – all the result of great craftsmanship. However we are in danger of losing a number of these crafts where our research has found that in some cases there are only one or two makers left. The Heritage Crafts Association hopes that by focusing on endangered crafts with this wonderful award initiated by our President, The Prince of Wales, the craft skills will be passed on to future generations.”
Applications were invited from those practising a craft listed as ‘endangered’ or ‘critically endangered’ on the 2019 edition of the HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts. Applicants must explain how they will use the £3,000 award to help secure the survival of their craft.
The closing date for applications was Friday 30 April 2021 at 5pm. Shortlisted applicants will be expected to attend the Awards Ceremony at the Houses of Parliament in Autumn 2021 (COVID permitting). The winner will also be expected to attend the presentation at Dumfries House (date to be confirmed).