“When love and skill work together expect a masterpiece”
Heritage and legacy are woven together like the strands of thread that create a beautiful and treasured item.
We all have a legacy to leave and a life to live. Our journeys and stories are the fibres of our lives that exist long after our bodies depart. We are our legacy and what we do with our time on this planet can have a lasting effect.
This made us think about those whose chosen path is one of tradition and heritage by the very nature of their work. Heritage crafts link us to our past and weave us together with our ancestors. But these special skills are being lost and with it new generations of people that can’t know and understand their proud heritage.
Over 150 British crafts are classed as endangered by Heritage Crafts Each year they produce a ‘red list’ of crafts on the verge of extinction. This year the research was funded by The Pilgrim Trust & The Royal Mint, and being on the ‘list’ means they have a risk of dying out in the next generation.
Some of these include straw hat making, hat block making, violin bow making, Cornish hedging and boat building. This is startling. Writing as someone with a Cornish hedge and a straw hat (!) I find this incredibly sad. Have we gone too far with mass production that we are prepared to lose our heritage over the faster, more convenient, machine made now, now, now?
Is this progress or a loss? Why does it matter that these things die out? It matters because we as creative, living, breathing skilled people matter. Not only are we talking about livelihoods, but very much about what makes us human.
In the same way as a Kindle was never going to replace a book, sometimes in this world, we need to feel an item, and wonder in the skill taken to produce it. Creating an item that matters and has had time taken over it becomes a thing of beauty that we can care for.
We live with the expectation of ‘immediately.’ Amazon can deliver you pretty much anything the next day. And it is shiny and new, but perhaps not crafted with skill and love and…imperfection.
And imperfection or individuality matters, it’s what sets us apart and gives us something unique. Be that people or product!
98% of skilled heritage practitioners are sole traders or micro businesses. Hit with a cost of living crisis, few can afford to train anyone new and share their hard earned knowledge. Often they can’t afford the space needed to create. Combine that with the increasing cost of materials needed. It is a challenging time to cherish tradition and craft.
But there is hope! Uk Philanthropist, Hamish Ogston has recently given a 29million donation to heritage skills training, recognising the importance of these skills, which hopefully won’t be lost forever.
Valuable knowledge could be lost and with the environmental and resource challenges we all face now and will continue to do so in the future, this may be a mistake. If we don’t transfer knowledge and skills they become lost. We need our legacies to live through others, whatever they may be.
We discovered 5 heritage Makers from The Makers Directory that we would like to share with you.
Julia Cooper – Paper Marbaling – www.juliacooper.co.uk
“I am a member of the Heritage Crafts Association for my work with paper marbling – a now ‘endangered’ practice in the UK. I am led by the tactile and the physical in all my work, and believe this can often create the most interesting and unique approach for digital, too. “
Yvette Phillips – Textile and Embroidery Artist – www.yvettephillipsart.com
“Textiles can provoke an emotional response, and have an inherent history that makes transforming them a meaningful process, preserving fragments of times past in a contemporary way. As well as reusing something that would otherwise be discarded, they give a resonance and sense of a past life to her work.”
James Gilbert – Wood work – https://www.jamesgilbertcarpentry.co.uk/
“Living and working on the family farm in a beautiful area of Northern Ireland has instilled in James the importance of sustainable living and taking care of our environment. As a result much of the timber James uses is sourced from fallen trees from their own or neighbouring farms.”
Self-taught from YouTube mostly! Now going to learn at renowned Rowden Atelier, School of Fine Woodworking in Devon
RECCLESIA – Stained Glass – https://recclesiastainedglass.co.uk/
“We offer expertise in the conservation and repair of historic stained and leaded glass, alongside the design and creation of new stained glass and leaded lights, and the conservation and creation of associated metalwork, protection and environmentally protective glazing.”
Katie Beard – traditional hot metal typesetting and casting, letterpress printing – https://rooksmoorpress.co.uk/
“With over 60 years’ experience, our craftsmanship and passion for books is ensuring the continuation of this skill for future generations. ”