Suffolk-based pargeter Johanna Welsh has won the 2022 President’s Award for Endangered Crafts. The prestigious award, and £3,000 bursary, was initiated by Heritage Crafts’ President The Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, before his Accession as HM King Charles III.
Heritage Crafts was set up 13 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 Johanna at a special presentation at the House of Lords on Monday 30 January 2023, after the original announcement, due to take place at Dumfries House (home of The Prince’s Foundation) was postponed during the period of national mourning following the passing of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
Pargeting is the application of ornamental lime plasterwork or stucco relief work to a flat surface. It is believed to have been introduced to England in the sixteenth century by Henry VIII who imported Italian plasterers to decorate Nonsuch Palace. The craft was referred to as ‘stucco’ in Italy, but became known as ‘pargeting’ in England.
Johanna is one of around five full-time pargeters in the UK. A third-generation Suffolk practitioner incorporating nearly 60 years of craftsmanship passed down through the family, she is experienced in many aspects of decorative and ornamental plasterwork, including the freehand modelled relief work associated with the Tudor and Elizabethan periods.
Johanna plans to use the prize to set up a workshop teaching space, equip it with tools, buy materials, and advertise short courses in the history, practice and materials of this craft, delivering a hands-on experience with specialist tools of the trade. As well as teaching new entrants to the craft she will also provide technical advice to industry-related businesses, providing an all-round introduction to the basic theory and practices.
Judges for the Award included Heritage Crafts Co-Chair Jay Blades MBE, Kate Hobhouse (Chair of Fortnum and Mason), Patricia Lovett MBE, Simon Sadinsky (Executive Director of The Prince’s Foundation), and Dr Rebecca Struthers (2021 President’s Award winner).
Winner Johanna Welsh said:
“I am absolutely thrilled to have won such a prestigious award! The prize money will allow me to run small group workshops in a region rich with historic and modern examples of the craft, and provide huge scope to promote understanding and awareness of the craft.”
Heritage Crafts Executive Director Daniel Carpenter said:
“Many people know the former Prince of Wales as a long-time supporter and champion of traditional craft skills, and his passion is all too evident through initiatives such as the Heritage Crafts President’s Award. Johanna is an immensely deserving winner and we know that in her hands the prize will provide a massive boost to the outlook of this endangered craft.”
The two other finalists for the 2022 President’s Award were Lorna Singleton and Emily Johnson. Lorna is one of only two full-time oak spelk basket makers in the UK, and also a split hazel basket maker (both of which feature on the Red List of Endangered Crafts). Emily is the Director of 1882 Ltd, a design-led ceramics brand produced in Stoke-on-Trent, formed by fourth and fifth generations of the Johnson family. Read more about Lorna and Emily here.