Sunderland calligrapher named top UK craftsman

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A WEARSIDE calligrapher has written his name into the history books after scooping a top award.

Ewan Clayton, professor in design at the University of Sunderland, has been named the UK’s Crafts Skills Champion in the first ceremony of its kind to “reward and encourage” best practice in passing on skills.

Singled out by a judging panel for his long-standing work, he was presented with the special honour by the Prince of Wales.

“It felt particularly good to be recognised by my colleagues, and to accept the award from the Prince of Wales, who has been so supportive of the university’s calligraphy research and education programmes,” he said.

The inaugural awards were set up by Creative and Cultural Skills, attracting entries from companies and institutions, teachers, workshop leaders and masters.

A lecturer on Wearside since 2006, Sussex-born Ewan focuses his studies on human-computer interaction, technologies and craft in communication, and the history of writing.

He is also interested in developing the theoretical underpinnings of western calligraphy and lettering.

Alongside Dr Manny Ling, Ewan helped develop the work of The International Research Centre for Calligraphy at the University of Sunderland, and the biannual international Writing Symposiums, launched in 1999, directed by the centre.

The Crafts Skills 2013 ceremony, in London, was compered by TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp, a crafts champion and ambassador for The Prince’s Foundation for Building Community.

During the ceremony, which also saw Mary Butcher crowned Crafts Skills Champion, it was revealed that the UK crafts sector now contributes £4.4billion to the economy, making it equal in size to the British petrochemical industry.

Lady Frances Sorrell, chairman of the judging panel, praised the entrants’ standard of work.

“This diverse and exciting group of award winners illustrates the wonderful skills and creativity we have in the UK – both traditional and in new forms,” he said. “By highlighting these skills we can introduce them to young people who may be inspired to become the next creative generation.”