A block printer, a trainee rake maker and a reverse glass sign artist have been awarded grants to help safeguard some of Sussex’s most endangered craft skills.
Heritage Crafts and the Sussex Heritage Trust have awarded the grants through the Heritage Crafts’ Endangered Crafts Fund, which was launched in 2019 to increase the likelihood of endangered crafts surviving into the next generation. The successful project joins six previous Sussex recipients funded through the partnership between Heritage Crafts and Sussex Heritage Trust, including a trainee millwright, two flint wallers, a brick maker, a trug maker, a wallpaper maker. Nationally, 50 projects have now been funded through the Endangered Crafts Fund since 2019.
The three new recipients are:
- Sarah Burns is a textile block printer and natural dyer from West Sussex. Her craft is founded on the use of seasonal natural dye colours that are foraged from the hedgerows and fields around her – fruitwood prunings in winter, hedgerow cuttings in the spring, fruits and flowers in the summer and warm oak tannins in the autumn. She will use the grant to install two large dye kettles to increase her output and make the business more sustainable whilst upskilling her apprentice.
- Kevin Copeland is Woodland Manager at Veterans’ Growth, a charity in Westfield, East Sussex, dedicated to helping ex-service personnel who are suffering from mental health issues by offering horticultural therapy and support. Kevin will train in traditional wooden rake making in order to pass these skills on to service users and the wider community. Rakes are useful to the charity, as they hand collect the hay from their meadows, and to others in the area who are interested in farming and managing land in a more traditional and sustainable way.
- Eddy Bennett is a reverse glass sign artist from Brighton who uses acid etching to create the distinctive patterns recognisable from Victorian-style advertising signs of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His grant will enable him to purchase a plotter to cut vinyl etching stencils and provide custom stencils to other reverse glass sign artists in the region.
In 2021 Heritage Crafts published the third edition of its groundbreaking Red List of Endangered Crafts, the first research of its kind to rank the UK’s traditional crafts by the likelihood that they will survive into the next generation. The report assessed 244 crafts to ascertain those which are at greatest risk of disappearing, of which four were classified as extinct, 74 as ‘endangered’ and a further 56 as ‘critically endangered’.
Mary Lewis, Heritage Crafts Endangered Crafts Manager, said:
“The current energy crisis means that our craft skills are at more risk than ever before. We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Sussex Heritage Trust to address the specific challenges to endangered skills and knowledge in Sussex, a region renowned for its craftsmanship and material heritage.”
A further five grants from the rest of the UK are due to be announced in the coming days.