Monty Don's Mastercrafts series is highlighting the skills involved in traditional crafts and bringing much needed attention. The Heritage Crafts Association have been campaigning to promote and protect these crafts so we are delighted with the publicity. I blogged just before the start of the series when I was looking through the proofs of the book, at that stage I was rather wary about the competitive element in the program and frustrated at the shortness of the apprenticeships.
My first blog of the year predicted 2010 would be a special year for traditional crafts. My first blog of 2009 was about the need for a traditional crafts organisation. These things are coming together now. Many people are I feel seeing these crafts as an important part of our cultural heritage and the idea that keeping the skills alive is more than backward looking romanticism, they should be recognised as being as much a part of our culture as our art galleries, museums and old buildings. The skills are much more difficult to preserve than an important art work since they only survive in the hands and mind of people and need to be passed on to each new generation. There is worthwhile work to be done and many people wishing to take on these skills. Our prime issue now is getting support for the mastercrafts people to help make it economically viable for them to pass on their skills. More discussion about these issues here.
The next stage for the Heritage Crafts Association is a forum at the V&A on 23rd March where representatives of many traditional crafts will come together to discuss the issues facing survival of their skills. Guy Mallinson and Don Barker the greenwoodworker and blacksmith from the series will be there along with representatives of many crafts. It will be interesting to hear what everyone has to say.