Sheffield scissor makers Ernest Wright have won the inaugural President’s Award for Endangered Crafts in this year’s Heritage Crafts Awards. The prestigious award, and £3,000 bursary, was initiated by Heritage Crafts Association (HCA) President HRH The Prince of Wales.
The President’s Award was one of five awards presented by Sir John Hayes at the HCA’s Awards Ceremony held on Wednesday 7 October. The event was held online instead of the planned Winners’ Reception due to take place at the Houses of Parliament, which was inevitably curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paul Jacobs with master putter-togetherers Cliff Denton and Eric Stones of Ernest Wright scissor makers. Photo by Carl Whitham.
Ernest Wright 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 12 scissor patterns currently in production. They plan to use the prize to repair machinery so that putter-in-training can have more productive time learning the craft from Cliff and Eric.
The four other awards were presented with the generous support of the Marsh Christian Trust, who have supported these awards since 2012.
The HCA/Marsh Trainer of the Year award went to Achilles Khorassandjian, shoe making tutor at Capel Manor College in Enfield, Middlesex. Achilles, known as Ash, has worked in the shoemaking industry for 57 years, and still designs and makes shoes from his home studio as well as supporting the next generation of UK shoemakers with his knowledge and skills.
The inaugural HCA/Marsh Trainee of the Year award went jointly to Richard Platt and Sam Cooper, chairmaking apprentices to Lawrence Neal at Marchmont House in Berwickshire. Richard and Sam are currently in the process of opening a rush seated chair workshop, the first of its kind since 1958. They use skills and techniques passed down from Phillip Clissett, Ernest Gimson, Edward Gardiner and Neville Neal. Without them taking up the craft, with support from Hugo Burge at Marchmont, one of Britain’s proudest craft traditions would have been lost.
The HCA/Marsh Volunteer of the Year award went to John Savings, from Appleton in Oxfordshire, hedgelayer and volunteer at the National Hedgelaying Society. John excels at promoting and encouraging others to take part in the traditional craft of hedgelaying. John lays in the South of England style but can put his hand to any style, showing young and old how to make a perfect hedge.
The HCA/Marsh ‘Made in Britain’ Award went to Two Rivers Paper. Established at Pitt Mill on Exmoor in 1987, Two Rivers is now the only manufacturer of traditional handmade, artists’ quality rag paper in the UK and one of only a handful of similar businesses in Europe. Their watercolour paper has an international reputation for excellence. Owner Jim Patterson has recently trained apprentice Zoe and plans to relocate the company to the historic papermaking town of Watchet.
A coppersmith, a withy pot maker and a disappearing fore-edge painter 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 has begun work on the third edition of its groundbreaking HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts, has awarded a further five grants from its Endangered Crafts Fund, which was launched in 2019 to increase the likelihood of endangered crafts surviving into the next generation.
Lizzy Hughes, from London, to develop her coppersmithing skills to include joinery, so that she’s able to make objects constructed from multiple parts such as buckets, watering cans and funnels, and to teach the craft.
Sarah Ready, from Devon, to develop her practice as a withy pot maker, producing pots for her son to fish with off the Devon coast, and to document the craft.
Gillian Stewart, from Glasgow, to expand her bookbinding practice by training as a disappearing fore-edge painter, and to teach the craft.
Alex Ward, from Shetland, to develop his furniture making business to incorporate the production of moulding planes for fine furniture making, and to teach the craft of plane making.
Lois Walpole, from Shetland, to publish a book on the critically endangered craft of kishie basket making.
Alex Ward’s moulding plane
These five projects follow 13 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.
As usual the fund was oversubscribed, and this was only compounded by the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the sole traders and micro-businesses that make up the heritage crafts sector. 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:
“No-one could have anticipated the impact of COVID-19 at the beginning of this year, not only on craft businesses, whose selling, teaching and supply chains have been curtailed, but on the craft skills themselves, many of which were on the brink even before the pandemic hit. We passionately believe that these skills have lots to offer a post-COVID future, as productive and fulfilling tools with which to rebuild a sustainable economy.”
The Endangered Crafts Fund has been funded through generous donations from organisations including Allchurches Trust, The Swire Charitable Trust and The Radcliffe Trust, as well as individuals who have donated sums from £5 right up to several thousands of pounds.
Paul Playford, who heads up the heritage grants programme at Allchurches Trust, said:
“We hope that our funding will help enable these talented craftspeople to further develop their skills, as well as to hand them down to future generations and share their craft with new audiences; potentially opening doors to new funding opportunities in these challenging times. We feel privileged to play our part in telling their story, raising awareness of ancient practices that are so important to preserve for future generations and hopefully inspiring others to follow their lead.”
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.
The Heritage Crafts Association (HCA) is delighted to announce that it has received a grant of £90,000 from the Swire Charitable Trust – to help meet urgent needs among craftspeople, step up campaigns for recognition and help transform lives through craft.
Richard Wheater, neon bender
The Swire Charitable Trust supports heritage and the safeguarding of endangered skills as one of its three grant-making priorities, funding charities like the HCA that work hard to protect and cultivate the skills and knowledge underpinning the UK’s heritage sector.
The funding will better enable the HCA to safeguard and support traditional craft skills over the next three years, focusing particularly on increasing the resilience of craft practitioners, developing training routes for craft, promoting craft in schools, and raising the profile of heritage crafts as a key constituent of UK culture.
Patricia Lovett MBE, Chair of the HCA, said:
“We are thrilled to be working in partnership with the Swire Charitable Trust over the next three years. This funding will allow us to build on recent successes, to further the appreciation of heritage craft skills as a vital part of the cultural life of the UK, and to help secure the livelihoods of the next generation of practitioners.”
Martha Allfrey, Trustee of the Swire Charitable Trust, said:
“The work of the HCA aligns closely with everything the Swire Charitable Trust hopes to achieve with our heritage programme. We believe that heritage crafts rightfully play a fundamental part in the UK’s living heritage, and are delighted to be supporting an organisation whose dynamic work does so much to enhance and protect the UK’s heritage craft community. We look forward to watching the HCA grow and solidify this valuable work over the next three years.”
The Queen’s Bindery Apprenticeship Scheme will close in October, three years earlier than planned. Led by the Royal Collection Trust, the scheme had aimed to train six apprentices in the specialist techniques of traditional bookbinding.
With all full time courses now closed, this was the last opportunity for young bookbinders to obtain a comprehensive full time education in the craft, instructed by highly skilled and qualified tutors. It was hoped that when qualified these apprentices would be in a position to train the next generation of bookbinders, as well as taking their skills to binderies in the UK and abroad.
Statement from Glenn Bartley, Head of the Royal Bindery:
“Due to the significant impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on Royal Collection Trust activities, the difficult decision has been made to suspend The Queen’s Bindery Apprenticeship Scheme with effect from October 2020. This decision has been made with great reluctance and regret after considering all alternative options to try to avoid this outcome, not least because of the Royal Collection Trust’s substantial and continuous investment, but also by the many donors, stakeholders, interested institutions and individuals who have supported the scheme.”
Two apprentices will be taken on by the Royal Bindery, but the remaining four are unlikely to be able to complete their full training in this highly skilled heritage craft. It is hoped that the scheme will be resumed when COVID-19 is finally over.
The Heritage Crafts Association is concerned that the loss of this scheme will lead to a long term loss of craft skills. Hand bookbinding forms an important part of our national heritage. Founded by George III in 1770, the Royal Bindery in Windsor Castle remains at the forefront of preserving the high standards of craftsmanship that are the benchmark of the professional bookbinding trade. Formal apprenticeships, such as this, are vital to the long-term survival and sustainability of the craft. Expertise in such techniques as edge gilding and gold finishing may be lost for ever unless action is taken now to preserve these skills.
Contact: Mary Lewis, HCA Endangered Crafts Officer – firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Jacobs with master putter-togetherers Cliff Denton and Eric Stones of Ernest Wright scissor makers. Photo by Carl Whitham.
A scissor maker, a paper maker and an industrial ceramics practitioner have been selected as the three finalists from a shortlist of eight, as part of the inaugural President’s Award for Endangered Crafts, established by HRH The Prince of Wales, President of the Heritage Crafts Association.
A judging panel featuring Patrick Grant (Great British Sewing Bee / Norton & Sons / Community Clothing), Mark Hedges (Country Life), Kate Hobhouse (Fortnum & Mason), Simon Sadinsky (Prince’s Foundation) and Patricia Lovett MBE (Heritage Crafts Association) made the final selection from a strong field of applicants that not only testified to the excellence of British craftsmanship but also provided a snapshot of the precarious state of endangered craft skills in the UK today.
Jim Patterson and apprentice Zoe Collis of Two Rivers Paper. Photo by Sarah Ward.
The Heritage Crafts Association published the latest edition of its groundbreaking HCA Red List of Endangered Crafts last year, which revealed that there are 107 endangered crafts in the UK. Included were the eight crafts featured in the shortlist: scissor making, commercial handmade paper making, industrial pottery skills, oak swill basket making, wheelwrighting, kishie basket making, sail making and neon sign making.
The three finalists are:
Paul Jacobs – Ernest Wright scissor makers, Sheffield
Jim Patterson – Two Rivers Paper, Somerset
Helen Johannessen – industrial ceramics practitioner, London
The other five shortlisted candidates were:
Phill Gregson – wheelwright, Lancashire
James Hartley – Ratsey & Lapthorn sail makers, Isle of Wight
The three finalists’ applications will now be presented to HRH The Prince of Wales for his selection, with the winner to be honoured 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 winner will also receive £3,000 to help ensure that their craft skills are passed on to the next generation.
HCA Chair Patricia Lovett said:
“We received a large number of very high-quality entries for this award, so being shortlisted was a huge achievement. The fact that we are blessed to have such highly skilled craftspeople in the UK should not allow us to forget the fact that, without more people taking up these crafts and the infrastructure and funding to support them, these skills could soon be consigned to history, in what would be a terrible loss to British cultural life.”
Judge Patrick Grant said:
“It was a joy to judge… I find myself wanting to do all of these things!”
The first round of judging for this year’s Heritage Crafts Awards, in association with the Marsh Christian Trust, has taken place and we are delighted to announce the following entries have been selected as the three finalists in each category. This was a fantastic achievement as we had a record number of entries this year and the standard was particularly high.
The finalists will now go forward to the final round of judging. We hope to announce the winners at our conference Craft Uprising on 11 October (we are currently considering Government advice on whether the conference can go ahead). All finalists will be also be invited to the HCA’s Awards Ceremony at the Houses of Parliament on 17 November 2020.
Trainer of the Year Finalists
One of the HCA’s key aims is to ensure that traditional crafts skills of the highest standard are passed from one generation to the next. The enthusiasm, knowledge and experience of key individuals can really influence the number and quality of skilled craftspeople in the UK. The 2020 Finalists are:
Achilles Khorassandjian, shoe maker
Jim Patterson, paper maker
Nigel Turton, thatcher
Trainee of the Year Finalists
The HCA aims to ensure that traditional craft skills survive into the future, and this requires a regular intake of enthusiastic and dedicated new entrants. Identifying and recruiting the right trainee can make the difference to the continuation of heritage craft businesses and in some cases crafts themselves. The 2020 Finalists are:
Manuel Aragon Gimeno, guitar maker
Richard Platt and Sam Cooper, chair makers
Yasmin St Pierre, lapidary
Volunteer of the Year Finalists
In heritage crafts, there are many people who do a tremendous amount on a voluntary basis. Whether independently, or as part of a craft organisation, these volunteers put in huge amounts of time and effort, sometimes over many years to make a real difference to their craft. Their role is often unsung. The 2020 Finalists are:
Ann Day, The Lace Guild
John Savings, The National Hedgelaying Society
Young Quilters Fundraising Committee, The Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles
Made in Britain Award Finalists
We seem to be almost inundated with cheap imported goods from abroad, yet there are still individual craftspeople and small manufacturers who are making great quality British work against all the odds. This award is for those who are flying the flag of British craft and making a success of it. The 2020 Finalists are:
An #EndangeredCraftsFund grant has been awarded by @heritage_crafts to a withy pot maker in Devon, who handcrafts #crab & #lobster pots from willow. The grant will help to preserve the #cultural heritage of the local #fishing community.
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