Thursday, 25 March 2010

Phil Harding, Mastercrafts mentors and Ewan Clayton help launch the HCA at the V&A

Phil Harding told us how pleased he was to be asked to speak not as an archaeologist or as a man off the telly but as a craftsman. He was speaking at the V&A as one of the country's top flint knappers and as a passionate supporter of traditional craft skills. Most of the Mastercrafts mentors joined us along with a select group of top craftspeople to discuss the issues facing the crafts in the UK today and how we could work together to ensure our inheritance of craft knowledge is passed on to the next generation.
One of the highlights of the day was the presentation by Prof Ewan Clayton a speaker of great eloquence and breadth of experience in the world of craft and far beyond, we hope we may be given permission to share his insights with folk who were not there because it was quite something. The day brought together for the first time a wide range of traditional crafts from blacksmiths and basketmakers to potters, upholsterers and weavers. Many were representatives of the various craft organisations so between us we represented the collective experiences of many tens of thousands of craftspeople. We had a bit of this

and a bit of this
Quite a lot of laughter
But the main purpose of the day was getting folk together in small groups discussing their experiences of their crafts.
This is Sophie Hussain, Guy Mallinson and Tony Dilamore Mastercrafts producer
Tickets were very restricted due to room size so we gave the first batch of tickets one to each of the craft organisations and then favored working craftspeople. We also invited Tony from Mastercrafts and Jon Henley from the guardian both of whom have a good understanding of the crafts and have done much to promote them. Jon did us a wonderful article to coincide with the launch which deserves a blog post of it's own. He is as passionate about the crafts as we are.
Each table had paper and pens and all the discussions were recorded as we went. Much was said and it will take a long time to collate but I suspect there will be much of interest when it comes together. All the results will be made public on the HCA website, it will be a snapshot "state of the crafts". This is Joe Kelly director of Craft Northern Ireland in full flow.

We are very keen that HCA should be fun, we all have real jobs and do this at our own expense, I think the fact the HCA committee work so hard and so well together to create a welcoming atmosphere helped everyone else have a great day.
After the morning session we went into entertainment mode and had invited guests and craft demonstrators. Owen Jones making a swill.

Samantha Marsden hand engraver.
Cliff from Ernest Wright co scissor makers.
but as always at this sort of event it is the little spaces in between formal presentations when the real networking and fun meetings happen.
Here's me chatting with Rosie Greenlees director of the Crafts Council.
And one of the nicest things was to see the mastercrafts mentors get together for the first time, they had a great time chatting about their experiences. Here are Dave the thatcher and Sophie the glass both of whom whilst serious about their crafts are great fun. Way out of focus and blurry but it captures the fun of the day.

Finally back to the end of the morning session and as we were wrapping things up and asked for a few comments from the floor Carole Milner from the Ratcliffe Trust gave us the most wonderful plug letting everyone know that whilst we may look like a slick professional fully formed organisation we actually are all volunteers with jobs to hold down and this thing will only be sustainable with a lot more help. Carole should know, she was responsible for pulling together all the conservation crafts into a single organisation ICON.

Since Tuesday we have been inundated with emails, press requests, we still have all the table notes to collate, the speeches to transcribe, press releases to write, photos to send to press. Then we can hopefully take a few days off and get back to our day jobs.

Tuesday felt a bit like the end of the beginning of HCA and a huge step up to the next stage of the developement of the organisation.Anyone who wants to be a part of that next stage (or just to support it) can now join HCA as a friend here for the tiny sum of £12

More photos on the new HCA Flickr page here

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