Our Head of Wood School, Joseph Bray, writes about his recent experience completing a Churchill Fellowship exploring furniture education in the US and Scandinavia.
This time last year I was returning from the first leg of my Churchill travelling fellowship where I visited a wide range of institutions offering high quality furniture education in the USA and Europe. I set out to explore how furniture craft skills were delivered and how these programmes supported graduates to bridge the gap between education and professional life. It was a truly inspirational experience that has taught me so much about the shared issues we face as well as some amazing examples of best practice.
My key recommendations are to:
- Establish inspirational opportunities for young people to experience making
- Integrate rigorous professional practice into craft education
- Stimulate collaboration locally, nationally and internationally
I started the fellowship while I was the programme leader of the Furniture Design and Make BA degree course at Rycotewood in Oxford and now I am heading up our growing Sylva Wood School. We have plans to offer a unique programme that aims to develop craft skills through commercial batch production, create a business development programme, and build on the success of our first summer school in collaboration with Grown in Britain. These activities are all aimed at helping to bridge the gap between education and the world beyond – I am very pleased to be able to put some of my findings into practice.
An important principle of a Churchill Fellowship is to share the findings with your community on your return. I have completed a report, ‘The future of furniture craft education’ and this is freely available and can be downloaded here.