more on traditional crafts organisation

Yesterday I went to London. That meant a 7am start, drive through the snow to Chesterfield and train to London.


I was there for an inspiring meeting. A small group of very committed folk were discussing the way forward for traditional crafts. We have been researching all the previous initiatives and all the different organisations that have done work in related areas. Where the Crafts Council concentrates on contemporary and innovative we concentrate on traditional, where English Heritage protect dead buildings we will protect the living heritage skills.

In 2005 the Heritage Lottey Fund set aside £7 million for training in the traditional crafts. This has all gone to building and conservation crafts (eg lime mortar and hedgelaying) simply because organisations like English Heritage and the National Trust have the infrastructure to make the grant applications. Our new organisation will campaign for all the traditional craft skills.

We have draft aims and objectives and agreements about the way forward. Hopefully within a few weeks we will have an official organisation that people can sign up to and show their support. My job over the weekend is to circulate our draft aims and objectives and then to look for funding for a website that can become the public face of the new organisation.

Our draft key aims are.

Recognition This will start with a survey of which traditional crafts survive and discovering which are the emost endangered.

Transmission We need to find new and innovative ways to ensure that skills are passed from one generation to the next.

Safeguarding We will campaign to ensure government understand the issues facing the traditional crafts and work through the individual craft organisations to nurture these fragile cultural traditions.

Celebration We want to shout about this important part of our living heritage.

After our meeting I hopped back on the tube down to Southwark Cathedral one of my favourite places in the city and a little oasis of calm.


I was in for a treat because the organist was rehearsing so I had half an hour sat alone in this glorious building listening to wonderful music. The organ has 3,743 pipes and was built by Lewis & Co. of Ferndale Road, Brixton, south London, and completed in 1897.

I was not just at Southwark for pleasure I had arranged to meet Tim Clements there. He is a cameraman and film maker with an interest in folk music and traditional crafts and wanted to meet to talk through ways in which all these interests could come together. It sounded an interesting project, he is as passionate about the craft of film making as I am about wood crafts. In a very similar way he is determined to make the films he wants to make regardless of whether they have commercial market or not. I will be interested to see how it turns out.

I still had a couple of hours before my train home so headed off to the British Museum. The place never ceases to amaze me, there is such cultural wealth under one roof from around the globe and from many millenia. I always find something new that I have never really paid attention to before too.
This time I found some turned and laquered Chinese bowls dating to c200bc appologies for the very poor camera phone image. These would have been turned on a similar lathe to the one I make my bowls on today or perhaps a slightly simpler version with an assistant pulling on a strap to spin the work.

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6 Responses to more on traditional crafts organisation

  1. The MauBow Turner February 6, 2009 at 9:17 pm #

    Looks like you had a wonderful day! Good luck in your planning and funding of the new organization. Jeff

  2. delabodge February 7, 2009 at 9:03 am #

    I look forward to the organization being formed and will support it with pleasure,,,,its imortant our craft heritage is preserved and promoted,,,,,well doneClive

  3. Woodland Antics February 7, 2009 at 9:27 pm #

    Hello Robin,looks like you made the best of London! Like you, I am at home in the British Museum, though I tend to end up in the brit isles section.I like your draft aims. Simple and clear without parroting the usual stuff. One thing I am very keen on is to show the Relevence of traditional crafts in today’s world – I guess this would be wrapped up in the Celebration bit?Good work!cheersMark

  4. Jude February 8, 2009 at 12:41 pm #

    I hope it all works out, it’s very important that the traditional crafts and our heritage are preserved. I’m going to London in March and just hope I can wangle a few hours in museums…..I’d love to, some day, get to your tutorials. I’ll have to post, on my blog, a photo of the love spoon my husband whittled for me last year, from olive wood.

  5. Robin Wood February 8, 2009 at 5:18 pm #

    Quite agree about the need for crafts to be relevant today. It has always been important to me to make a living primarily by making things rather than teaching/demonstrating and looking for grants. The UNESCO convention on Living Heritage makes the point very well that this should be a living changing part of the culture not preserved in aspic.

  6. r.j.carlton February 8, 2009 at 7:44 pm #

    Keep up the good work. Its so impotrtnant to acknowledge and respect the passed-on actions, motor-habits and techniques as well as the things they produce.

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