London based luthier Jonathan Hill has won the inaugural Woodworker of the Year Award sponsored by Axminster Tools, including a £2,000 prize and trophy awarded at a special presentation at the House of Lords on Monday 30 January 2023.
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.
This new award sponsored by Axminster Tools celebrates a heritage craftsperson who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of woodworking over the past year. It recognises a contribution that is far beyond the ordinary, based on a proven dedication to a particular woodworking skill.
Jonathan is a maker of historic and modern stringed instruments including the viola d’amore, lira da braccio, violin and viola families. Following training at West Dean College, he worked for a master violin maker in Yorkshire, and studied instrument making in Turkey with a master traditional oud maker. Many of Jonathan’s clients are from leading orchestras and ensembles worldwide, including The Kreutzer Quartet, BBC Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, Rietveld Ensemble and Musica Alchemica. He is the only maker in the UK specialising in Violas d’amore and has now made more consecutive instruments than any other maker, living and historically.
Global suppliers of woodworking tools and machinery, Axminster Tools has spent 50 years building their family business into the renowned organisation it is today. Working together with makers and creators at all levels, from trade professionals through to craft enthusiasts, their commitment to supporting woodworking skills fits perfectly with the ethos of Heritage Crafts.
Judges for the new award were Alan Styles (Managing Director of Axminster Tools), Sarah Goss (a traditional woodcarver who featured as one of the experts in the recent Prince’s Master Crafters: The Next Generation programme on Sky Arts), and Robin Wood MBE (an internationally respected green woodworker who re-established the craft of pole-lathe bowl turning in the 1990s).
The two other finalists for the 2022 President’s Award were Robin Johnson, who produces tailor-made joinery, furniture and metalwork from his workshop in Hastings, and David Robinson, a self-taught woodcarver with 30 years’ experience and the Master Carvers’ Association’s most recent inductee. Read more about Robin and David here.