As we come to the end of the project, we are reflecting on our project journey which spanned over 4 years, from 2019 – 2023.
From the time we sat in a cafe in Dorset and thought about how we could highlight endangered crafts, to starting to write the Arts Council funding application and then having to put this on hold due to Covid-19.
Many times, in the beginning, we didn’t think this project would see the light of day. When sitting back down to write the funding big in early 2021, we decided that we would only pursue this project if it fell into place. We were lucky and many stars aligned when developing the project, from the Museum giving us an exhibition in their relatively new community gallery to finding match funding and support in kind.
The final make-or-break decision came from the Arts Council when the funding application was accepted. We were overjoyed with the result and couldn’t wait to start!
From this point, the learning of endangered craft skills commenced. We knew it was important to establish an understanding of how each skill fitted into the local history. We were thrilled when the museum offered a private view of their archival pieces that demonstrated the endangered skills highlight in the project.
Jess Pearson comments that “It was wonderfully rich documenting the learning and teaching process through film and photography. Each artist fully immersed themselves and the work produced was of such high quality. Everyone should be very proud of what they achieved during the project and what they continue to achieve beyond it.”
There were many highlights of the project and lots of positive feedback from the audience members made up of the public, artists and craftspeople, school and college students and teachers. We have heard of students wanting to learn more about endangered skills and also starting to include the skills demonstrated in their own work.
We want to thank all the organisations and people who have supported the In a New Light Project: The Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon, The International Guild of Knot Tyers, West Buckland School, newly Copperworks, Sandy Brown, The Arts Council England, Heritage crafts and Rowden Atelier Woodworking School. We could not have run the project without every single one of these people and organisations.
From the exhibition, we were approached to help curate a new craft demonstration marquee at the 2023 Devon County Show. Edward Crumpton is also exhibiting at the county Show along with being invited to exhibit at two outdoor exhibitions. Hester Berry is using the skill learned from the project, within her painting practice and Edward Wild is continuing to use gilding as a decorative element within his furniture making. Danni Bradford has been invited to exhibit at The Bovey Tracy Craft Festival by Heritage Crafts and will also be holding more demos for students at Rowden Atelier Woodworking School.
Many artists and craftspeople have told us that they would like to be involved in a future project, so we plan to expand the project in the coming years, possibly looking at different historically endangered crafts in different counties. We would also love to continue to grow our professional relationships with the organisations and people we have connected to within the first project.
For the moment we are focusing on other projects, however, endangered crafts and being able to highlight them and inspire future use of them holds a special place in our hearts.
For more information about endangered crafts, you can visit the Heritage Craft Red List: https://heritagecrafts.org.uk/redlist/
The Red List is updated every couple of years and the 2023 list has recently been published.
Feature Image by Edward Wild – The Orb Side Table Top View