I was elated to receive funding from Arts Council England in October to embark on a new 14-month project that seeks to preserve and evolve North Devon’s heritage skills. The collaborators, painter Hester Berry and furniture maker Edward Wild, and I will learn endangered skills from heritage practitioners like Michael Johnson, who will teach me the red-listed Copper Smithing at The Copper Works Newlyn. Hester will learn Tile Making from renowned ceramicist Sandy Brown, and Edward will learn gilding from Verre églomisé artist Danni Bradford.

The project will culminate in talks, demos, workshops, and an exhibition at The Barnstaple Museum from October 2022 until February 2023. The museum will also display related heritage craft items from their archive.

This project idea emerged in 2019 when my partner, Jess (Shimnix Films), and I attended the International Guild of Knot Tyers annual conference in Dorset. While there, we learned that the guilds were concerned about engaging the next generation of potential knot-tying enthusiasts, as the many skills involved could eventually be lost, along with important English heritage. As an artist incorporating heritage skills like knot tying into contemporary work, I was inspired to explore how this could be expanded to include other endangered crafts. That’s when we discovered The Red List, created by the Heritage Craft Association in 2018 and updated in 2020 to list critically endangered crafts.

You can read our experience by looking at the news page.