Royal Show: Feeling winds of change

2008-05-28 00:00

THE Royal Show crafts and home industries section is feeling the winds of change. While entries this year were at a nine-year high, interest in some categories has fallen while others are growing.

Fourteen years ago 51 schools entered the crafts and home industries section while this year only 17 schools entered, according to the Royal Show president, Di Fitzsimons.

“Times have changed,” says Fitzsimons, “but it is exciting to see that the adult section’s numbers are still high.

“School budgets for handiwork and woodwork have been severely chopped and teachers have so many other demands on their time, like technology, canoeing, squash and computers.”

Laddsworth won the Leonard Line Junior Inter-School trophy at the crafts and home industries section of the Royal Show again this year.

But Anne Tarr, the school principal, confirmed that fewer schools are entering than in previous years.

Tarr encourages her pupils to enter on a voluntary basis. “We’ve won the cup for the last three or four years,” she said. “It’s a wonderful achievement, but our numbers are depleting as well.”

“Crafts fluctuate according to fashion,” says Fitzsimons. “With the invention of digital cameras, photography has taken off.”

The Witness photography section is well supported this year, with interesting categories like “manipulated digital photography” and “abstract photography” attracting entries.

“Scrapbooking is huge,” says Fitzsimons and, interestingly, knitting has nearly doubled and embroidery numbers were up this year with “80 beautiful quilts”, while certain other sections have had a dip.

“I really don’t believe that crafts will ever die, but maybe people will start later than they used to,” says Fitzsimons, saying that the 3 800 entries received was a nine-year high.

The judges are all nationally accredited for the generic crafts such as sewing and are very competent, according to the president.

“Each and every entry is brought to them and every single article is looked at and a comment is written.

“Every chutney is tasted,” says Fitzsimons, who has been president of crafts and home industries for 26 years, “and each entry is given ahelpful, practical comment. The magic is that it is all run by volunteers.”

If crafts are to continue to thrive, schools and parents need to encourage children’s involvement in this age of technological gadgets.

“I think it is such a good thing for the children to do, away from TV and computer games,” says Tarr.

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