My first blog post of 2009 talked about the need for a traditional craft organisation here.
Just a year on I feel so much more positive about the future of traditional craft skills. We still have a way to go but the foundations have been laid for 2010 to be the year when traditional crafts become recognised as an important part of our cultural heritage.
The year has started well. Mark Jones director of the V&A is the first patron of the Heritage Crafts Association and was made a knight in the the new years honours list. We shall be holding a press launch of the HCA at the V&A in March to highlight the issues facing traditional crafts in the UK and the fact that they fall outside the remit of all support agencies and government departments.
Alex is currently filming a follow up series and has already been rick building, tanning, barrel making, lobster pot making, hedging and forging a devon style bill hook. 2010 will also see the launch of Monty Don’s new Mastercrafts tv program. If these prove successful we could see crafts becoming as popular on tv as celebrity chefs which would be a huge boost to the field. The HCA has been working hard to get the message out that whilst crafts are important in many ways perhaps the least recognised is the fact that they are a part of our cultural heritage. Smith is after all our most common surname.
I want to share a vision for the future of crafts now by looking at a story of two baskets. I have posted before about my good friend Owen Jones the last swill basket maker here.
My vision for the future of crafts in the UK would have children in Cumbria given the opportunity to experience swill making, children in Sheffield given the opportunity to make cutlery to use at home, children in Stoke would make a pot to eat their breakfast from and all the elderly craftpeople who are the caretakers of the skills and knowledge associated with these crafts and passed down through the generations would be encouraged to pass it on and money made available to help them do so.
I know fellow traditional craftspeople may feel this is so far from the current situation as to be wishful thinking but we do protect and preserve our old buildings and museum collections. These skills are every bit as much a part of our heritage and I believe that by the end of 2010 if we work hard we can get them recognised as such.