The Beginning of In a New Light Art Project
In early October I was thrilled to receive funding from Arts Council England for a new and exciting 14-month project which highlights and evolves North Devon heritage skills, intending to inspire their revival through new and exciting art and craft.
The project will see myself, painter Hester Berry, www.hesterberry.co.uk and furniture designer and maker Edward Wild, www.ewcf.co.uk, learning a new endangered skill from heritage skill practitioners.
I will be learning the red-listed skill of Copper Smithing from the master coppersmith Michael Johnson at The Copper Works Newlyn, www.thecopperworksnewlyn.com.
Hester will be learning Tile Making from the international ceramicist Sandy Brown, www.sandybrownarts.co.uk and Edward Wild will be learning gilding from the Verre églomisé artist Danni Bradford, www.dannibradfordstudio.com.
The project will culminate in talks, demos, workshops and an exhibition at The Barnstaple Museum, www.barnstaplemuseum.org.uk, from October 2022 until February 2023. In the exhibition, Barnstaple Museum will also display linked heritage craft items from their archive.
Why endangered skills?
This project idea was formed in 2019 in a café with my partner, Jess (Shimnix Films) www.shimnixfilms.co.uk, whilst attending the International Guild of Knot Tyer, www.igkt.net, annual conference in Dorset. A concern of the guilds that had become apparent was their need to engage the next generation of potential knot tying enthusiasts. The worry was that if this did not happen, the many skills involved could eventually be lost and with it important English heritage.
As an artist involving the heritage skills of knot tying in contemporary work, it felt very apt to follow this thread and look at how this may be expanded to include other endangered craft. Through research, we found The Red List.
The Red List, created in 2018 and updated in 2021 by the Heritage Craft, lists critically endangered craft. www.heritagecrafts.org.uk
And so the project was born.
It is worth pointing out that the updated 2021 Red List, moved Tile Making and Gilding from the endangered category to the viable. I was thrilled that these skills were no longer endangered, however, upon finding this out, the project’s focus shifted from only focusing on endangered skills from the Red List to also including endangered/heritage skills connected to Barnstaple. Tile Making connected to the pottery of Brannam’s and gilding connected to the furniture of Shapland and Petter.
Hester Berry Image by Jose Walker, Edward Wild Image by The Maker Series, Edward Crumpton Image by Guy Harrop.
Michael Johnson Image by Luke Brown