Football and craft celebrate cultural heritage

M Tomlinson Football Boots-HomeGround-Souvenirs_DGC low resAn unlikely combination of football and craft have provided the inspiration for Souvenirs from Home, an exhibition at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen.

Gilded football boots and decorated silk team shirts are amongst the craft created by football supporters working with artists across the country.

Souvenirs from Home is the culmination of Home Ground, a three-year project which celebrates the cultural heritage of football clubs with nicknames inspired by the local craft industries that have shaped their communities.

Stoke City Football Club takes its nickname from a close association with the ceramics industry. Supporters of The Potters, along with clubs including The Blades in Sheffield and The Hatters in Luton, worked with artists and makers to explore how crafts can be used to create a sense of identity and place.

Home Ground is a collaboration between the Devon Guild of Craftsmen and six English league football clubs across the country. During the project, supporters and community groups of all ages took part in workshops to create craft inspired by the history and skills which made these places, products and football teams famous.

At Crystal Palace, artist Michelle Dawson worked with football supporters and community groups to create one-off “souvenirs”. Those taking part learned more about the history of the club and the local area. Working with the artist, each participant designed and created a stained glass panel celebrating the history of the club.

In Sheffield, participants created their own medals using traditional metal working techniques, in Luton they learnt about hat making and decorated their own boaters, and in Stoke a ceramic collage was created using individual shapes with images and lettering, inspired by the city’s heritage.

The work of communities across the country will be shown alongside specially commissioned work from each of the artists who worked with the football clubs.

‘Jo Boxhall’s Football Boots’ was created by Melanie Tomlinson and inspired by her experience of working with the young Saddlers fans and their families. In Walsall, children and their families developed ‘Jo’, a fictional footballer with family links to the leather industry. The 1957 gilded boots in a special casket depict the narrative of Jo and his family.

Zoë Hillyard has created The Silkmen Cup, which celebrates Macclesfield’s heritage and reflects the football club’s determination and strength. The Cup is made with Zoë’s own technique of reconstructing broken ceramics using fabric and stitch. The inaugural match played under the name Macclesfield Town Football Club, in 1876, was against Stoke City – The Potters. These teams, which grew out of their respective trades, clash again in Zoë’s celebratory piece through the mix of silk and ceramics.

Erica Steer, Director of The Devon Guild of Craftsmen said:
“This exhibition celebrates the connection between tradition, contemporary craft and our six chosen football clubs. Our artists have used the story of the town’s historic craft industries to connect people and places and build an understanding of the importance of craft in creating a distinctive sense of place, which in turn strengthens communities.

The Home Ground project has given us an opportunity to capture people’s interest in craft through another passion – football.”

The Souvenirs from Home exhibition will be shown at the Devon Guild of Craftsmen in Bovey Tracey from Sat 17 Sep 2016 to Sun 6 Nov 2016 before touring the country. Entrance is free.



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