Two Scottish craft makers are among the winners at The Balvenie Masters of Craft 2012, an awards programme which recognises, honours and celebrates highly skilled craftspeople around the UK.
The awards garnered hundreds of entries from across Britain and culminated in a ceremony held in London’s famous Savoy hotel on 27 June 2012.
TV presenter and judge of The Balvenie Masters of Craft, Kevin McCloud said "For a second year, we have been blown away by the quality and quantity of the entries. There is such force and passion behind craftsmanship right now and I am delighted to have been a part of the process once again. Congratulations to all this year’s most deserving winners."
The Balvenie Masters of Craft 2012 winners are:
The Balvenie Master of Craft 2012: Heather Gillespie, copper wheel glass engraver (pictured top)
Heather Gillespie, from the Lake District, is one of the last remaining copper wheel glass engravers in the UK. Heather only uses lead crystal glass and takes inspiration from nature and its surroundings. From small pebbles to rugged rocks, she looks for texture in all manners of subjects. Heather was also the winner of the Glass & Ceramics category.
Stone: Callum Gray, dry stone waller (pictured left)
Callum Gray is a Glasgow-based landscaper who specialises in dry stone walling, an ancient craft using gravity and friction to build a mortar free, self sustaining structure. Drystone requires patience and a keen eye for detail and the right stone. It’s rugged, labour-intensive and sees him outdoors in all weathers. Callum recently spent time restoring a 500 year old wall in Stirling and he took pleasure in securing its existence for another 500.
Textiles: Di Gilpin, hand knitter (pictured below)
Di Gilpin has been hand knitting for 30 years. She set up her first studio on the Isle of Skye in 1983 and has clients including Helena Bonham Carter and Bette Midler. Di successfully combines traditional techniques and demand for well-made, sustainable, fashionable pieces. She has recently created a new company with its own couture label; this expertly-designed and primarily hand-knitted line brings provenance and sustainability to the fashion industry.
Wood: Alan Jones, thatcher
Alan Jones, a thatcher from Bridgend in South Wales, started out as a carpenter. He now specialises in growing his own thatching wheat, which is used for both thatching purposes and as an agricultural product. His belief in and passion for his craft means that he also teaches and trains others in crop and wetland management.
Metal: Phil Barnes, enameller
Suffolk-based Phil Barnes specialises in enamelling, the decoration of a surface fusing ground enamel on to a metal base stretching back to Anglo Saxon and Roman times. In Phil’s case, his preferred metal is silver, which allows the colour of the enamel to show through.
Leather: Terry Davis, harness and horse collar maker
Terry Davis is a harness and horse collar maker who believes that this traditional craft has been practiced for some two thousand years with little change over that period of time. Having practised it himself for the past 40, he believes he has gone some way to make some changes for the better.
Food: Sam Holden, cheese-maker
Sam Holden – is a cheese-maker who specialises in making a traditional Cheddar-style cheese called Haford on his farm in West Wales. It takes his skill, a lot of time and the 65 Ayrshire cows on his farm to create Haford. Each cheese takes over 12 hours from start to finish.
The Balvenie Young Master of Craft: Peter Murray, chair maker
Peter Murray, also known as the ‘Artful Bodger’ is a chair maker who specialises in Windsor chairs made from green wood. In addition to creating handcrafted chairs using a variety of tools including the pole-lathe, Peter’s aim, in his own words, is to create pieces that ‘are a pleasure to look at and a joy to sit in.’
The David Stewart Lifetime Achievement Award: Bob Armstrong, thatcher
Bob Armstrong is a thatcher who at the age of 66 is still artfully practising his trade. Based in Salisbury, Bob spends much of his time up a ladder making and crafting roofs much the way they were made over 100 years ago.
The expert panel of judges included: Kevin McCloud; Malt Master David Stewart; The Sunday Telegraph Life editor Anne Cuthbertson; Chairman of the Heritage Crafts Association Robin Wood; craft photographer Nick Hand; Entertaining Director at Wallpaper* magazine Melina Keays; Ceramicist and Maker Trustee of The Crafts Council Stephen Dixon; and last year’s Young Master of Craft winner Ruth Emily Davey.
Lead judge, The Balvenie Malt Master David Stewart, said of the awards "Being my 50th year with The Balvenie distillery, this year is very special to me. I’ve so enjoyed judging this year’s entries. We’ve had three times the number of entries as last year which is fantastic news for the crafts industry but it has given my fellow judges and me a very tough job.
"The standard has been incredible – it’s just been fantastic to see the awards – something we believe so much in – have grown from strength to strength."
View an exhibition curated by Nick Hand featuring photographs of all The Balvenie Masters of Craft finalists.
The Balvenie Single Malt Scotch Whisky is produced by William Grant & Sons Ltd, an award-winning independent family-owned distiller founded by William Grant in 1886 and today run by his direct descendants in Speyside in the Scottish Highlands.
The Balvenie is a unique range of single malts created by David Stewart, The Balvenie Malt Master.
Photography credits: Nick Hand
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