Sandra Gunn has been announced as the new Chair of Craft Scotland, the national development agency for contemporary craft.
A fine artist and designer, Sandra was formerly Dean of the Faculty Creative Industries at City of Glasgow College. She has extensive experience in working with creative industries and in tertiary education and is Associate Assessor for Education Scotland. Sandra has contributed to a number of boards, including Creative Scotland and Centre for Contemporary Art, and has been a member of the Craft Scotland Board since 2017 and recently as Vice Chair.
Sandra’s appointment sees her succeed Catherine Holden as Chair who has led the Board of Directors since 2016 playing a key role in supporting the development of Craft Scotland over the period. The intervening years saw a series of milestones achieved by the organisation as it found new ways to support the contemporary craft community in Scotland and advocate for the sector.
Image: Sandra Gunn at Craft Scotland Summer Show 2019 / Photography by Ellie Morag
Image: Catherine Holden welcoming dinner guests to celebrate the inaugural cohort of the COMPASS: Emerging Maker Programme / Photography by Ellie Morag
Highlights during this time included Craft Scotland’s showcase at the American Craft Council’s flagship fair ACC Baltimore in 2017, the first nation outside the United States to be invited to attend. The resulting showcase was Craft Scotland’s biggest selling show to date generating in excess of £100,000 of sales for Scottish makers and firmly establishing the international profile of Scottish contemporary craft.
Recent developments over Catherine’s tenure also include flagship learning and development programme COMPASS which was launched in 2019 and is now in its fifth year. Also providing opportunities, advice and expertise supporting makers based in Scotland is Craft Scotland’s burgeoning award programme which started in 2020. Those under the organisation’s stewardship include Jorum Craft Award, Houliston Craft Award and now Inches Carr Award all of which provide financial support in addition to industry expertise to makers at a range of levels from recent graduates to established practitioners.
Speaking on the highlights of her time as Chair Catherine said:
“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with a wise, warm, insightful and supportive group of board members, and a committed and endlessly imaginative team. It has been a privilege to work with colleagues who have such energy, thoughtfulness and dedication to supporting and promoting the very best of contemporary craft.
I have had the opportunity to meet brilliant makers, curators, educators, gallerists, collectors, funders and donors – all the people who make the craft ecology a force for good.
As Chair one of the many personal highlights was seeing bold, ingenious, skilful, surprising and challenging craft pieces, which bring so much joy and also challenged my thinking.
Professionally I have enjoyed being part of a team collectively making the case for craft - at home and internationally, for individual wellbeing and in communities, for skills development and new career pathways in the twenty-first century.
This included proudly representing Craft Scotland and makers at our events, including the international art fair Collect in London and the Edinburgh festivals Summer Shows – especially hearing great feedback from visitors and seeing them walk away delighted by their purchases.
Finally, I feel like I have ended on a high with the fantastic Craft Scotland Conference. Held at the National Museum of Scotland in partnership with Edinburgh College of Art, National Museums Scotland and North Lands Creative, it featured an amazing array of makers from around the world, speaking from the head and heart, and showing what the best contemporary craft can do: bring people together, broaden thinking, develop extraordinary skills and build a better world. It was inspiring and deeply moving.”
Image: Catherine Holden with Irene Kernan and Mella Shaw at the Craft Scotland showcase for Collect 2020 / Photography by Neil Hanna
Craft Scotland Director Irene Kernan added:
“We are delighted that Sandra has agreed to become Chair of the Craft Scotland Board of Directors. Her appointment following a period of working closely with former Chair Catherine Holden allows us to maintain the solid foundations of our Board and advisory group whilst retaining the positive energy and ambition of the organisation.
On behalf of my colleagues, our advisory team and members of the Board I would like to wholeheartedly thank Catherine for her contribution as Chair over the past seven years. She has been a huge asset to the organisation and her infectious passion and enthusiasm for contemporary craft has helped fuel the ambition of the organisation. Our new chair Sandra Gunn shares these qualities and we’re delighted she will continue to build on the contribution she has made as Vice Chair working alongside Catherine.
As we remain in regular dialogue with the maker community here in Scotland, alongside supporting partners and the platforms that enable us to champion Scottish contemporary craft we look forward to Sandra’s valuable input, and guidance as Chair.”
New Craft Scotland Chair Sandra Gunn said:
“I feel very privileged to take on the role of Chair of the Board of Craft Scotland. Although this is a challenging time for the wider arts sector I believe contemporary craft in Scotland has an exciting narrative to share. Contemporary craft is internationally recognised as a dynamic and vital element within the wider Creative Industries sector.
Craft Scotland is at the forefront of promoting and celebrating the high-quality work designed and produced in Scotland. Additionally Craft Scotland has the essential role of highlighting and advocating for the important economic, social and cultural value of craft in modern-day Scotland. I am ably supported by a committed and expert Board and a highly professional and passionate team at Craft Scotland.”
Learn more about Craft Scotland's Board and Advisory Group.
To find out more about Craft Scotland's current projects please visit: www.craftscotland.org/about/projects
Top image: Sandra Gunn at the Summer Show 2019 / Photography by Ellie Morag