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A great exhibition of artisanal skills

A beekeeper, mosaicist and stained-glassmaker are visiting Fortnum’s

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A great exhibition of artisanal skills

February 06 2012
Vicki Reeve

The Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST), the charitable arm of the Royal Warrant Holders Association (RWHA), has helped brighten up the world by awarding £1.5m to some 242 artisans since its inauguration in 1991. These “scholarships” are intended “to further study, training and practical experience for craftsmen and women who want to improve their craft and trade skills”. The crafts range from calligraphy to silversmithing, pottery to upholstery, and stonemasonry to wallpaper design.

QEST was set up to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the RWHA and the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, and this year it is again emphasising its royal connection by celebrating Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in a collaboration with Fortnum & Mason. The grande dame of London stores, keen to continue nurturing excellent British craftsmanship, launches its QEST Crafting Excellence Exhibition on February 6.

Exceptional work by 32 QEST scholars will be showcased (and available to purchase) all over the shop. Bob Johnston’s wickerwork wild boar is sure to prove a favourite (£1,995), as will Jane Fryers’ very chic veiled hat, made of recycled materials and embellished with incredibly realistic red roses (£469), and Hannah Griffiths’ mosaic work (including her Chilli Boards, second picture, from £25).

A programme of events is running alongside the exhibition. It began with a writing extravaganza, as calligraphy scholar Davina Chapman personally hand-wrote Valentine’s cards and short letters. Upcoming sessions include a demonstration of stained-glassmaking by Sophie D’Souza (May 16; her panels with scenes from Alice in Wonderland – first picture – are exquisite; from £895) and an evening featuring a talk by QEST scholar James Hamill about beekeeping and his collection of honeypots (May 9). Tickets to these events and demonstrations cost £25, with £5 going to the QEST Diamond Jubilee Appeal, which aims to double the number of scholarships it grants each year.

For those who are inspired to order bespoke pieces from any of the QEST scholars, Fortnum’s will also host an evening at which customers can meet these designer-makers and commission them directly (June 14).