It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that I take on the role of Chairman in another celebratory year for us, marking thirty years of the Guild. Our current efforts to promote and enjoy enamelling go from strength to strength with the continued development of our website, our superb DVD’s, our active Regions and of course our enviable Conference.
Our AGM and Conference in Leicester this year was no exception! A resounding success with excellent facilities and a stimulating selection of workshops, Speakers and a real thought provoking Master Class (I hope all of you who attended are getting plenty of drawing practice in every day!!). As ever it was a fantastic team effort from all concerned, but special thanks must go to Carol Griffin for her vision and realisation of the weekend and to Liz Gilliland, our new Conference Secretary, who did a brilliant job in her first year.
This years Conference also opened our doors to several guests in related enamel organisations within the UK, who were invited to view our Exhibition, workshops and stay for dinner on the Saturday evening. These included Hilary Bolton, Chairman of the British Society of Enamellers, Chris Taylor and his wife, Past Chairman of the Institute of Vitreous Enamellers and David Gatrell from A J Wells, who is also a member of the IVE. Their response to the Guild exceeded our expectations, they were all extremely impressed with all that they saw and we hope to further our associations with all of them in the coming year.
Our Bursary scheme brought another new face to Conference, Lucy Irvine a recent graduate from Dundee College of Art. Lucy was an asset to the weekend, helping out in two of the workshops and winning a Merit Award for her work in the main Exhibition. The Guild, through Gillie Hoyte Byrom’s hard work, is currently developing the scheme with a more formal application and selection process, with the aim of encouraging more enamelling students to apply and be made aware of our existence via our website.
Indeed, the only complaint of our weekend at Leicester was that there wasn’t enough time! It was a very fulfilling weekend for all who attended. It was also Joan Bolton King’s last year as Selection Secretary and, in recognition of her long service and commitment to the Guild, she was presented with Honorary Membership at the AGM.
Looking ahead next year’s Conference returns to York, but in a brand new venue, The Thorpe Underwood Estate, over the weekend of 17 –19 April 2009. Due to the high demand for places in the last couple of years, we are anticipating putting on an additional workshop at the York Conference, to allow more members to join in our anniversary celebrations. Look out for full details, which will be listed in the Journal in due course.
Over the next twelve months I will be encouraging and promoting the craft of enamelling and the work of all our members on all levels. I will be visiting the Regions, attending as many of your meetings as possible. I am looking forward to seeing those of you who can’t always make it to Conference and finding out what you all get up to throughout the year! I will be supporting the continued development of our website. All members, new and existing can now subscribe online and purchase our DVD’s online. We have many links from our site to other enamellers and enamel groups, so if you haven’t visited it recently, why not click on today, www.guildofenamellers.org. Our website team have lots of ideas to ensure we are kept informed and updated on news about the Guild, Courses Regional Activities and any other related enamelling news nationally. I will also continue to encourage our links with other related organisations. We now have a reciprocal membership with the IVE and we are looking at other ways to share knowledge, skills and experiences with the potential to benefit us all.
I feel this is a very exciting time for the Guild as we move forward developing and expanding the ways we achieve our objectives, which is only possible as a result of all our achievements over the last thirty years. I am delighted to be part of such a motivated organisation and I am looking forward to representing and promoting the Guild at every opportunity during my year as Chairman.