Monday, 29 June 2009

Doug Fitch potter

I love nice pots, especially ones that you can use everyday in the kitchen. Yesterday we visited "Fire and Earth" an annual event at Rufford Abbey
There were lots of nice pots to see and potters to chat with including a blogging friend Doug Fitch. I don't have time to follow many other craftspeoples blogs but Doug's is always interesting.

He works in Devon making good wholesome slipware pots. Here is his blog. and some of his lovely pots.

Another of my favourite potters Svend Bayer was also there with some simply gorgeous pots. I don't covert many things but I would love one of his huge garden pots. There is one in permanent residence in the courtyard at Rufford and I was rather surprised to see it seems to be used as a litter bin. That's an expensive litter bin. More of Svend's pots here. I have a lot of photos that I took when we visited him at home a couple of years ago, if folk wanted to see them I could put them up in a blog post.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

traditional crafts debated in the House of Commons

At the Heritage Crafts Association we are delighted that less than six months from our formation we have seen the state of traditional crafts debated in the House of Commons with the Culture Minister answering questions.

Speaking at an adjournment debate on Traditional Crafts in the House of Commons this Thursday Barbara Follett said:

"We are keen that the rich intangible cultural heritage of the United
Kingdom is properly valued and, when necessary, preserved…. Whether tangible or intangible, however, our heritage is a marvellous asset that we want to protect and nurture.”

She then called on local and regional authorities to do their bit along with central Government and its agencies to support these vital heritage crafts.

“As a Regional Minister, I see a role for the regional development agencies and local authorities. They need to play their part, along with central Government and non-departmental bodies, in ensuring that our traditional skills are upheld and preserved.”

I am sure my friend Mike Turnock the sievemaker never thought he would hear the Culture Minister say:

" no serious gardener, anxious to keep his or her soil in good tilth, would be without a good quality riddle—and, should they be in need of one, Michael Turnock is just the man to supply it."

The full transcript of the 30 minute debate is available at the they work for you website and on Hansard.

It seems somehow appropriate that Mike's riddles should be mentioned since it was in his workshop 6 months ago that the seeds of the HCA were sown, see pictures of his workshop and that visit in my blog post here. And here is one of the pictures of Mike at work.

This is our official HCA response.

“ The Heritage Crafts Association welcomes the Culture Minister''s comments in support of the traditional or heritage craft skills of this country. For people like Mike Turner, the last traditional sieve maker in this country, Barbara Follet’s comments represent a beacon of hope that when they retire, their skills gained from a lifetime of practicing traditional crafts may not fade away with them.”

“However, we are concerned that the full picture of the value of the heritage crafts to the economy, and the scale of the loss that lack of action could produce, both the loss of cultural traditions stretching back in some cases thousands of years, and the loss of economic potential which this cottage industry presents has not yet been fully appreciated by the Government. In light of the Minister's comments in support of traditional crafts, it seems fair to ask for some alternative plan to safeguard this vital part of our living heritage, and some money to do it with. We look forward to continuing to discuss these issues with the Minister and her department on an ongoing basis”

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Crafts in the House of Commons tomorrow 6pm

I have been very busy this last week taking a first aid course over the weekend and then teaching a developers spooncarving course which finished today, I shall post pictures soon.

Tomorrow I am off to London again representing the Heritage Crafts Association at the first meeting of the working group on National Occupational Standards in Craft. This underpins all government funded training, NVQs, apprenticeships etc. so it is important that the generic Craft NOS is appropriate to the heritage crafts we are supporting. No NOS=no funding.

Then at 6pm I shall be in the House of Commons to see my MP who has tabled an adjournment debate on traditional craft skills. He will be asking questions which will be answered by the minister responsible. You can see it live online on the parliament channel here. 6pm Thursday 25th.

Home late then Friday will be cutting up bowl blanks ready to take to Norfolk show where I am demonstrating next week.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

a few thoughts from the world of folk music

I just came across this rather nice article written in respect of folk music but change a few names and it could equally well apply to traditional crafts.

"In 1931 H.G. Wells wrote “In England we have come to rely upon a comfortable time-lag of fifty years or a century, intervening between the perception that something ought to be done and a serious attempt to do it” (Work Wealth & Happiness of Mankind). At the end of the last century the Victorian collectors saw a need to record for posterity the tapestry of music, custom, and song that they saw in danger of disappearing. Collectors such as Lucy Broadwood, Frank Kidson and Cecil Sharp would have been amazed and alarmed at the position at the end of the twentieth century; amazed at the wealth of material that has been amassed and alarmed at the dearth of provision for their legacy.

No properly funded centre exists in England to research and celebrate our vernacular arts. No sustained funds or facilities have ever existed in England specifically for research into our native traditions. Most research and collecting has to date been accomplished informally by individuals generally unsupported financially."

This is an introduction to an article about Doc Rowe, music and folklore collector published in The Living Tradition magazine about ten years ago and available in full online here

Saturday, 6 June 2009

MP to apply for debate on Heritage Crafts

Whilst I was away in Germany last week my MP Tom Levitt visited Mike Turnock the country's last sievemaker. More info on Tom's website here

After the visit Tom wrote to me saying that he is going to apply for an adjournment debate on the conservation of heritage craft skills. These are allocated by ballot so there is no guarantee that it will happen but it would be great to see the issue debated in the house. An adjournment debate happens at the end of each working day and involves the MP speaking for 15 minutes on an issue then the relevant minister replying.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

meeting the Crafts Council and visiting Richard Long exhibition

Yesterday was another London trip to meet with Rosy Greenlees and Amanda Jones, executive director and director of external relations of the Crafts Council. The Crafts Council is the national development agency for contemporary crafts in the UK their funding comes through the arts council and in their programs they tend to promote work which is innovative rather than traditional.

In their advocacy role they have a wider remit and are very supportive of the work of the Heritage Crafts Association and we hope that there will be opportunities for collaboration in the future. We shall be meeting again next week at the House of Lords for the launch of the craft blueprint which has been produced following an extensive period of research and consultation to determine the actions required to support both contemporary and heritage craft skills in the future.

After the meeting I went to Tate Britain to see a new exhibition by land artist Richard Long. Most people know Andy Goldsworthy's work, less folk know Long though he has been doing these things since the 1960s. It was a very good exhibition which I would recommend though at £9 a ticket it makes you realise how lucky we are now to have the rest of the galleries and museums open for free.