New Tradition – the resurgence of British manufacturing

The decline of the British manufacturing industry since the 1960s was so catastrophic that it threatens even the memory of how well things were once made in Britain.

New Tradition

Rather than dwelling on this, Made North Gallery’s New Tradition exhibition looks to remind us of the quality of contemporary craftsmanship in the North of England – and indeed the demand for it today – by showing some off.

While cheaper manufacturing abroad continues to be a problem for some domestic industries, a long heritage in making quality and hand-crafted goods serves as a saving grace for many others.

Abbeyhorn was founded in 1749 and has been trading for four centuries, carving horn to produce functional items
Abbeyhorn was founded in 1749 and has been trading for four centuries, carving horn to produce functional items

Made North says, ‘in recent years there has been a growing demand for products with a Made in Britain label in global markets as a sign of quality and heritage.’

The exhibition spotlights manufacturers which have been based in the North of England for hundreds of years and in particular the work ‘demonstrates a unique combination of craft skills, materials, production values and expertise,’ according to the gallery.

Ernest Wright and Son is a family owned company which has been making scissors and shears in Sheffield since 1902, and offers lifetime guarantees on its products
Ernest Wright and Son is a family owned company which has been making scissors and shears in Sheffield since 1902, and offers lifetime guarantees on its products

As a whole it will look at contemporary perceptions of consumer value ‘and our increased desire for authenticity quality and craftsmanship that is redefining contemporary craft and the UK’s manufacturing industry,’ says the gallery.

Manufacturers taking part in the exhibition include Royal Designer for Industry David Mellor, textile manufacturer John Smedley, Abbeyhorn, Ernest Wright Ltd, knife manufacturer Taylors Eye Witness, and Wentworth Pewter.

Made North also has plans to launch a range of New Tradition products over the next 12 months. These will champion local manufacturing and emphasise quality and craftsmanship while helping to forge relationships between emerging designers and established manufacturers.

By Ernest Wright and Son
By Ernest Wright and Son

The New Tradition exhibition runs from 5 February – 15 March, at Made North Design and Craft Gallery, Yorkshire Artspace, Persistence Works
21 Brown Street, Sheffield, S1 2BS

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