Creating Scotland’s next boom: arts and crafts

Argyll textile designer Eve Campbell, one of a selection of makers in Scotland being supported by a tailored business development programme by Craft Scotland, called COMPASS.

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West coast artists have a final chance to take part in a residency run by Craft Scotland, the national development agency for craft.

This year sees the final residency of its COMPASS: Emerging Maker programme.

It aims to ‘spotlight and support the potential of some of the country’s most exciting makers, from those reimagining traditional crafts in a design-led contemporary way to those leading the way in producing sustainable, ethical handmade objects’.

The residency will include mentoring, practical business advice and access to upskilling to help make the sector more resilient to change.

There are more than 3,500 makers in Scotland working in contemporary craft.

This includes everything from furniture making to silversmithing, working in textiles, ceramics, glass and jewellery, explains Craft Scotland.

‘With a value to the economy of £70 million according to the latest figures (2012),’ the agency for craft says, ‘Scottish contemporary craft enjoys an enviable reputation on the world stage, as international demand for handmade objects sees makers regularly feature in international showcases, and develop markets in Japan, the US and Europe.

‘Craft is a popular career for all ages, and is a second or third career for more than two-thirds of makers in Scotland.

‘It continues to be a female-dominated industry (82 per cent in 2019) and makers often note they have high career satisfaction.

‘Now as the final COMPASS residency gets underway, the need for a variety of routes into craft, a focus on innovation, building an understanding of different business models, and robust business practices is more important than ever for Scotland’s maker community.’

Graduating makers in 2021 include Argyll-based textile designer Eve Campbell who has collaborated with high street brands such as White Stuff and John Lewis, and Highlands-based leathercraft maker Isabel Hendry.

Textile designer Isabel Hendry said: ‘Craft Scotland’s COMPASS programme gave me the confidence to launch my business.

‘It showed me that I was ready, that I knew more than I gave myself credit for and really was a source of validation for both my collection and my ideas, neither of which I’d had a chance to share in a public space before.

‘It gave me a network of other creatives at the same stage as me which has been invaluable and has resulted in life long friendships.

‘Living in a remote location these networks are all the more important.

‘I feel lucky to have been part of the next generation cohort and feel like part of the wider Craft Scotland community who I know I can reach out to should I ever need to.’

Jo Scott, head of programmes at Craft Scotland, said: ‘Scotland-based makers enjoy many advantages – from excellent further education courses across the country, a strong heritage of making here in Scotland, and an outward facing sector keen to embrace new technologies, and international influences to create new work.

‘Despite this, makers in Scotland face unique challenges, many of which have been heightened by the impact of Brexit and the pandemic including access to craft markets and fairs, disrupted supply chains or access to digital infrastructure for online-based businesses.

‘Craft Scotland developed COMPASS in 2018 to focus on developing craft talent following research and maker feedback.

‘We have now had more than 50 makers go through the COMPASS Programme, including cohort two and three in 2021 from the Emerging Maker programme, who have had their residency at Hospitalfield this summer/autumn.’

She added COMPASS would allow makers to take a holistic look at their creative and business practice as well as network.

 

COMPASS is supported by the William Grant Foundation and Creative Scotland. For further information about COMPASS and to see this year’s cohort of selected makers please visit www.craftscotland.org