Our friends at the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) support the training and education of craftspeople through traditional college courses, vocational training, apprenticeships, and one-to-one training with a master craftsperson. QEST was founded by the Royal Warrant Holders Association in 1990 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Association and the 90th birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother.
QEST’s current programme of British craft exhibitions, entitled The Art of the Exceptional, is on now at Fortnum & Mason’s in central London and marks the Queen’s Jubilee Year celebrations. Curated by craft expert Brian Kennedy, a series of media-specific exhibitions are being held throughout spring/early summer 2022. The project culminates in the creation of a special hamper with a selection of pieces by former QEST scholars, specifically commissioned for this project.
The current show includes work by DN member and glass artist Scott Benefield, who we talked to recently.
Design-Nation asked: How has QEST supported you?
Scott Benefield answered: I received a small grant in 2013 to study the chemistry of coloured glass and have participated in some of the exhibitions and charity auctions that QEST has sponsored over the subsequent years. The scholarships awarded by QEST are the most consequential activity of the organisation, but it also serves as an important networking tool and continues to present interesting opportunities to former scholarship recipients.
D-N: What are you exhibiting at the show?
S.B: I am participating in the second of the media-specific exhibitions, which includes glass. They were interested in showcasing both the production work and the unique pieces, which rarely happens since those two bodies of work have such a different route to market (shops v. galleries). But it’s instructive to see how they relate to one another and the techniques that they share, as well as how they diverge in terms of function, scale, pattern, etc. I was also selected to make a couple of pieces for the hamper, which will be sold in support of future scholarships.
D-N: What are your future plans for exhibitions, or other projects?
S.B: As shops reopen, I’m trying to revive my wholesale business, which had switched to an online retail business during the pandemic. The retail landscape has changed significantly, and I suspect it won’t be the same as before. I’ve also started doing quite a bit of production work for designers who are launching small ranges of handmade products that are made in the UK, which is a new experience for me. And I’ll do some workshop teaching for a month in the summer, all being well in the travel sector.*
*Scott’s workshop is in rural Antrim, Northern Ireland, just a few miles from the famous Giant’s Causeway.
Interview by Laura Jacometti