Scottish Sculpture Workshop (SSW)

History of the project
The idea for the Skillscape project emerged in 2010 as SSW started to look for new ways to engage with traditional skills and cultural resources in its immediate surroundings.
The search for new materials, forms and skills and the ambition to generate a broader public discussion led to The Lost Hand exhibition curated by SSW in 2011.
SSW invited master craftspeople – to demonstrate and talk about their work – into the SSW workshop, highlighting the quality and breadth of skills from the area.

During 2012/13 SSW developed a small but growing network of master craftspeople, and is now uploading a number of profiles into the Skillscape website.
Throughout the Skillscape research we have made connections across the region which have enabled us to provide a forum in which craftspeople can share their preoccupations, source materials, exchange skills and establish new collaborations.

The methodology we used in this project consisted of audio-recorded semi-structured interviews, note taking at informal meetings, photography and video. This information served to inform a final report as well as a website with 28 craftspeople profiles. Interviews have been transcribed and uploaded alongside photographs of craft skills, and a geographical representation of where those craft skills are being practiced.

High quality craft skills in the northeast
The geographical area that we have considered is broad, ranging from Angus to Moray, throughout the whole of Aberdeenshire. From this overview we have concentrated on the areas surrounding SSW, including, Oldmeldrum, Tarland, Aboyne, Strathdon, Ballater, Dufftown, Alford and Portsoy.

We have found a very wide range of skills being practised across the region.
These range from single practitioners to individuals who work together in larger units and businesses.

Standard of quality
All of the people included in the directory practice their skill on a professional basis and have many years of experience in their chosen field of expertise.

An optimistic approach
Working in rural areas can be challenging for many reasons but all the people that we interviewed were united by a passion for what they do and a satisfaction in producing a good product for their customers.
Many actively promote their skills by leading classes and workshops and those who employ staff were motivated by being able to provide employment in rural areas.
Skilled makers love doing what they do; are inventive in the face of changes and new pressures and gain pleasure from making people happy with what they produce.