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24th January - 13:30
The SPAB is delighted to announce its 2018 SPAB Fellows: Ross Buckley, a metalworker from the Isle of Wight; Naz Dmiuterko, a stonemason with Cliveden Conservation in Buckinghamshire; and Gary Holliday a stonemason at Durham Cathedral. Since 1987 the SPAB has organised the Fellowship to foster a new generation of outstanding craftspeople with the knowledge and expertise to pass on essential skills for working with historic materials. The prestigious scheme runs in parallel to the SPAB’s Scholarship programme for architectural / building professionals. Ross was introduced to the Fellowship programme by SPAB Scholar Robert Williams whilst repairing the Cowes hammerhead crane on English Heritage's At Risk Register. Ross takes a keen interest in industrial machinery and mills; the Fellowship interview panel enjoyed hearing of his journeys with steam engines. Naz Dmiuterko was uninspired by his initial career path – IT. He explored different trades and sites whilst labouring in the building industry. Fascinated by the skills involved in carving stone, Naz was taken under the wing of a mentor and encouraged down the stonemasonry route. Gary Holliday is from a family background of stone merchants and new-build work but he diverged into conservative repair. Gary was inspired to pursue the Fellowship by a previous Fellow, Mike Goulding who he met at York College whilst training for a SkillBuild competition. He enjoys sharing his skills, teaching others and currently looks after a team of masons at Durham Cathedral. The aim is for our 2018 Fellows to gain broad, practical experience and knowledge to enable them to bring a strong awareness of craft diversity to their future professional roles. The Fellowship also equips them with the skills necessary to lead and manage historic building contracts, while deepening their understanding of the importance of gentle repair - the keystone of the SPAB approach.  
11th December - 14:44
By Paul Walters It has been a few months since we embarked on the incredible journey that is the William Morris Craft Fellowship and it has not disappointed! We have visited an incredible amount of sites, varying in architectural style, function and grandeur. However, I have always been just as interested in the ethos of the people working on these sites as I have been in the buildings themselves. Paul Walters Brickrubbing with Emma Simpson at Hampton Court Palace. As a small business owner it can get very difficult trying to get the balance right when establishing one’s boundaries to repairing, conserving and/or restoring a building, and having spent a significant amount of time these past few months with a variety of craftspeople and conservation professionals, it is reassuring to know that everyone has such dilemmas. There are a few obvious avenues that affect the ability to carry out works in the manner which is perceived as “textbook” or the “SPAB way”, this is perhaps true north on our conservation compass. On sites, this magnetic pull towards our true north is disrupted by numerous and perhaps inevitable complications that will make us deviate from our path. Perhaps the strongest influence is the client. A lot of clients want to ‘modernise’ a building, to the peril of the character that makes the building desirable in the first instance. But equally detrimental is that of personal ambition of specifiers, architects and craftspeople. We can all get blinded by our own version of doing what’s right, whilst trying to manage what the client wants. Some value some eras more than others, some crafts or work more than others. Fortunately, one could argue that we’re better off having a compass in the first instance? Knowing where true north is serves us in good stead, regardless of whether we choose to utilise it to its full potential. Its reassuring to know that even the most knowledgeable and experienced people go through similar turmoil when making important decisions, before putting the stamp of our era on such amazing buildings.  
09th December - 15:31
SPAB Fellows, past and present, celebrated 30 years of the Fellowship programme at the Carpenters’ Company in London in November alongside supporters and donors. Matthew Slocombe, SPAB director, introduced the four 2017 SPAB Fellows, commending them all for their commitment to their craft and the Fellowship. Dale Perrin, this year’s carpenter Fellow, told guests what a privilege it was to travel to all corners of the UK in the pursuit of exemplary craftsmanship and said “it would take a good through years to sift through everything they’ve learned on the Fellowship”, before warmly thanking all the hosts and tutors that made their year of conservation learning possible. The guest speaker Richard Kindersley, a hugely influential letter carver responsible for work at St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and London Bridge, spoke passionately about the importance of crafts. In the mid-century modern Carpenter’s Hall with its exquisite joinery, Richard talked about the tactile nature of good craftsmanship: “the first thing a person wants to do when they see a fine piece of craftsmanship is to touch it. This process is like the closing of the circuit.” Without our funders and partnerships this scheme wouldn’t be possible. The SPAB William Morris Craft Fellowship is generously supported by Historic England, Historic Environment Scotland, William Morris Society, the Churches Conservation Trust, the William Morris Craft Fellowship Trust, the Drake Trust, Carrington (1953) Ltd, the Building Limes Forum, Carpenters’ Company Charitable Trust, the Stuart Heath Charitable Trust and the Delves Charitable Trust. Lord Cormack, a member of the Fellowship founding committee, closed the event by reflecting on our historic buildings, they were “created by the craftsmen of the past but wouldn’t survive without the craftsmen of the future” and that it is the dedicated work of those that understand these buildings that ensures their survival.