Yesterday I was in London for an interview with the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust. The trust, which was established in 1990, gives funding to support practising craftspeople in gaining training or experience to further their careers. My scholarship, if I’m selected, will enable me to spend 3 weeks in Sweden working with Fritiof Runhall, one of the best greenwood carvers in the world as well as visiting other craftspeople in the area and researching old wooden spoons in several museums there.
The interview was just 20 minutes long with a panel of craftspeople and designers, most of whom are Royal Warrant holders for their craft and including two woodworkers. I did feel quite daunted to be presenting to them but I’d had some good advice in advance that it would be relaxed and that proved to be right. I took a selection of my wooden spoons, a large carved bowl and a shrink pot container to show and, by the time I’d got in the room and said hello, the various members had the work in their hands – always a good sign. I’d been told that I would have 10mins to present my proposal followed by questions from the panel but actually I talked for just a couple of minutes before they jumped in with questions on how I work, the advantages and problems of greenwood, why I want to learn from Fritiof, pricing my craft, creating a carved finish instead of sanding and where I think I’m headed. It was all pretty intense but exhilerating at the same time and was over in a flash; it reminded me of teaching at Spoonfest – trying to put across a lot of information about what I do in a short time to a group of highly interested people.
I should find out by friday whether I’ve been awarded the Scholarship but in many ways I already feel like I’ve been successful. The fund website states they are looking for “Well thought out proposals which will contribute to the excellence of modern and traditional British crafts” from craftspeople who can demonstrate they “already have a high level of skill and are firmly committed to your craft or trade”. To have been selected on that basis from 300 applicants for one of only 30 interviews is a huge compliment and mark of recognition, not only for my own work but for the relatively unknown craft of greenwood carving and spoon making in the UK.
Keep your fingers crossed and I’ll let you know when I hear the news.