Heritage Crafts and the City & Guilds Foundation are delighted to award two new bursaries for Black and ethnically diverse trainees in heritage crafts.
This round of bursaries is specifically focused on trainees experiencing financial hardship, as the UK undergoes the economic uncertainty of inflation, rising cost of living and spiralling energy costs.
Marcia Bennett Male is a London-based mid-career stone carver with previous training in architectural stone carving and stone masonry. Her bursary will allow her to take her career to the next level by training in portrait work, specifically how to use a traditional pointing machine for reproducing likenesses from a clay maquette. Marcia is determined to teach and pass on skills that are currently difficult for both her and her students to access in the UK.
Michelle Mateo is a Monmouth-based early-career basket maker, green wood worker and leather worker. Her bursary will allow her to train in split wood basketry, expanding her repertoire from ask to hazel and oak splint basketry, and to weave baskets in styles from the UK, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Spain and the US. Two forms of split wood basketry are currently listed on the Red List of Endangered Crafts.
It is still the case that the UK craft sector does not accurately reflect the diversity of the UK as a whole and, for this reason, we are taking positive action to target this bursary at Black and ethnically diverse groups who are currently under-represented.
Heritage Crafts and the City & Guilds Foundation believe that the value of our craft heritage comes from the diversity of skills and traditions across all of our communities, whatever their background.
The City & Guilds Foundation is part of the City & Guilds charity, and its programmes are targeted to help everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, have opportunities to succeed.
City & Guilds Foundation Advocacy Lead Lauren Roberts said:
“Quality skills development for all is at the heart of what we do at the City & Guilds Foundation. We are incredibly excited to be working with Heritage Crafts in their mission to support black and ethnically diverse individuals, and are very proud to support learners on their journey to be highly valued members of the heritage community.”
Heritage Crafts Endangered Crafts Manager Mary Lewis said:
“We are thrilled to be working with the City & Guilds Foundation to provide bursaries for Black and ethnically diverse groups and help redress the historic imbalance of opportunity that has resulted from both overt and hidden discrimination within the heritage crafts sector. We are very excited so see the new generation of makers as much more reflective of modern British society.”
Download a copy of the press release
About the City & Guilds Foundation
The City & Guilds Foundation is part of the City & Guilds Group charity, and has a specific focus on high impact social investment, recognition and advocacy programmes. Each of the programmes it runs act as a catalyst to make a difference to people, organisations and society, through investing part of its surplus and resources into helping everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, get opportunities to succeed.
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.
See the projects that were successfully funded in the previous application rounds
Hazel basket making
The making of frame baskets using split hazel, also known as whiskets.
|Historic area of significance
|Mid/East Wales, North Wales Brecnock, Radnorshire, Montgomeryshire, Ceredigion
|Area currently practised
|Origin in the UK
|Current no. of professionals (main income)
|Current no. of professionals (sideline to main income)
|Current no. of trainees
|1 (Stan McNulty, part time apprentice)
|Current total no. serious amateur makers
|Current total no. of leisure makers
These were agricultural frame baskets made using split hazel weavers. They vary in style and technique across the UK.
In North Wales, there was no special name for the hazel baskets. They were referred to according to their use e.g. basged dillad (clothes basket). There was also no particular style of basket. Individual makers used ribs, weavers and hoops creatively to produce the size, shape and style of basket they wanted.
Whiskets (Wales and borders): A whisket is a round or oval bottomed, frame basket. It was made using split hazel weavers, split hazel ribs running along its length and a hazel hoop, the hoop often constructed from two spliced half sections. The basket has two handles formed on the sides of the hoop which are often wrapped around with weavers. Whisket or wisket may have same etymology as whisk.
- Sourcing suitable hazel rods at right time of year for yielding good long weavers
- Dressing and preparing rods, splitting consistent hazel weavers and ribs
- Dressing weavers and ribs
- Assembly of frame basket
There are many variations of split hazel basket and they would have been made for the task in hand.
Issues affecting the viability of the craft
Market issues: Low potential income for effort involved in processing raw materials.
Skills issues: Baskets of this kind might have been made on upland farms where required using limited availability of a raw material (hazel rods, not necessarily coppiced). This was a traditional rural Welsh craft, practiced often by farmers for own use, with limited opportunities for marketing. Little written evidence of skills or techniques so knowledge and skills faded as old generations of farmers died, and farms broken up with no young practitioners. Baskets were made to be used, so had finite life. Hazel is susceptible to woodworm so old examples are rare.
Craftspeople currently known
There are a few tutors who offer courses in hazel basket making: