I first heard about the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust whilst looking for funding to study at the prestigious Royal School of Needlework. Actually, that’s a terrible place to start. My name is Alan Moore, I am a Glasgow School of Art graduate and I run my own business making contemporary luxury menswear, using artisanal cloth and traditional techniques. I am enthusiastic about craft, and about locally sourced produce. My brand ethos is to source the best quality materials from Scotland and the UK and to ensure every product is made in the traditional way, by craftsmen and artisans in Scotland.
After graduating from art school, I found myself a bit redundant. The competition was fierce and I had little to no industry experience. I thought that to get anywhere in fashion or textiles I either had to study further, which I couldn’t afford or move to London and intern for free, which I also couldn’t afford. So, young, naive and slightly arrogant, I started my own business. I worked in pubs and shops to fund the business and started to work on designs and garments that I would sell to friends and family. Fast forward a few years and the business is just starting to take off and establish a strong brand.
Although I am delighted with how the business is doing and the fact that I am designing professionally, something has always niggled away at me. I studied embroidery at Glasgow School of Art, and absolutely loved it. After a lot of research I decided I was going to hone my skills and apply it to the business; men’s jackets covered in embroidery, akin to military uniforms, royal ceremonial outfits and religious capes.
The Royal School of Needlework was always mentioned as the mecca of hand embroidery, I always felt a sense of romanticism and mystery surrounding the place, and with that a feeling of unattainability. After speaking with the RSN they advised that I look into the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust, who had helped students in the past with things like course fees and travel bursaries.
I submitted my application to QEST the day after the opening day, leaving myself months of waiting for an answer. The answer came in the form of an invitation to be interviewed in person and present my work in front of a selection of QEST ambassadors at the head office, a stone’s throw away from Buckingham Palace. Uncharacteristically, I was nervous, in fact, I was terrified. I had done my research and the people interviewing me included Head of VIP clients at Burberry, a Director at Gieves & Hawkes and the QEST’s chairman…no pressure then.
I was pleasantly surprised at the warm welcome I received as I entered the regal yet modest headquarters. Not surprisingly I was offered a cup of tea and made to feel at ease, and at home. As I waited my turn to be interviewed I chatted with the staff, talking about my work and about the highlands of Scotland, by the time it came to presenting my work, I was calm and confident. I was shown into the interview room; in my head I had imagined a cold room with a desk and 4 interviewers. In stark contrast, the room was massive, and sat round a huge oak table were 9 judges. The judges and trustees all introduced themselves and set the tone for a relaxed presentation and discussion about my work and aspirations. The whole process was really rather pleasant and the feedback I received on my work, from the people who gave it will remain with me forever.
Some weeks later, I received a letter from QEST congratulating me on becoming a scholar and awarding me funding to cover tuition fees at the Royal School of Needlework. Needless to say, I had a large dram to celebrate.
I have yet to start my study at the RSN and despite being a new arrival to the QEST family; I have been welcomed with open arms and am already reaping the benefits of being associated with such a prestigious organisation. The acceptance lunch was one of the proudest moments of my life, being awarded my certificate and applauded by members of the Royal Warrant Holders Association was a great feeling. I hope to develop strong ties with QEST and to continue to participate in their events, pushing my own skills and learning from others within the network.
The value of the crafts industry to the British economy was measured using research commissioned after the government’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport proposed dropping crafts from its list of recognised creative industries in 2013. “It’s far bigger than we thought,” said Rosy Greenlees, executive director of the Crafts Council, which carried out the research. “This is emphatic proof of the impact craft skills have on the economy.”
The launch of Our Future is in the Making: An Education Manifesto for Craft and Making received enthusiastic support from luminaries from the worlds of craft, design, education, art and business, following an open letter to The Times published on 10th November 2014.
The UK is a world leader in craft, yet craft education is at risk. This is why we support an Education Manifesto for Craft and Making, being launched at the House of Commons today.
Craft skills generate £3.4bn for the UK economy, with 150,000 people employed in businesses driven by craft skills, in engineering, science, design, architecture, fashion and film.
Making contributes to cognitive development and fosters wellbeing. It develops creativity, inventiveness, and problem-solving.
Between 2007 and 2012 following changes in educational policies, student participation in craft-related GCSEs fell by 25 percent. In higher education, craft courses fell by 46 percent. This comes when elsewhere around the globe investment in creative education is rising.
We make five calls for change: put craft and making at the heart of education; build more routes into craft careers; bring the entrepreneurial attitude of makers into education; invest in craft skills throughout careers; and promote higher education and artistic and scientific research in craft.
The Crafts Council’s manifesto lays out 22 specific action points for the government to support crafts in schools, higher education and other paths to employment.
After showing at Holland & Holland last winter, Lai Symes has been inspired by the country theme. The hat shown is made from charcoal faux-fur with woodcock feathers from her father-in-law’s farm in Suffolk and embroidered with a silver beaded spray reminiscent of gun shot and finished with raspberry colour shell-stitched lining. Lai’s winter collection will feature the beautiful names and colours of fishing flies such as Partridge and Olive, Green Highlander, Blue Wing Olive and Woolly Bugger.
Distance is no barrier when making bespoke: Leather maker, Mark Gizzi’s first sale from his Etsy site left his Hertfordshire studio and was delivered by UPS to legal offices in Manhattan in just over 24-hours. Although originally designed as a weekender bag, it is ideal for everyday use particularly for those that need to carry vast sheaves of evidence to and from the courts. Made from English saddle leather and measuring 45cm x 50cm and 17cm deep, this is the third weekender bag he has made, the previous one was purchased anonymously by a style writer and received rave reviews on specialist The Tweed Pig website.
Laura Homer has been appointed Paintings Conservator at the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo. She is one of a team of three paintings conservators looking after a collection of approximately 7500 paintings spread across the National Gallery and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Their responsibilities include the care of the painting collection, from the basics of framing and storage, through to research and full aesthetic and structural treatments to restore damaged artworks. They ensure the paintings are safe for display in exhibitions in their own galleries, as well as those across Norway, Scandinavia and the rest of the world.
Laura is about to undertake research into the materials and painting technique of a painting by Edvard Munch.
James Hamill, Master Beekeeper for The Hive Honey Shop was Country Life magazine’s beekeeping spokesperson during their first London fair at Fulham Palace in September. The event celebrated the best of British Countryside-in-Town. “I was delighted to speak about the plight of the honeybee at the Country Life Fair. It’s not just about the honey. It’s vital that we all try and do what we can to help protect and nurture these wonderful little creatures that do so much for us behind the scenes,” said James.