An introduction to QEST (Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust), championing excellence in British Craftsmanship.
Created in 1990 by the Royal Warrant Holders Association, QEST’s aim is to help sustain Britain’s cultural heritage, by supporting the education and training of talented and aspiring craftspeople through traditional college courses, vocational training, and on the job training with master craftspeople.
To date, we have funded more than 400 talented craftspeople in over 130 skills, from traditional skills such as tailoring and embroidery to jewellery, upholstery, fine arts and contemporary crafts.
QEST Scholars have enjoyed the opportunity to work with Chanel and Vivienne Westwood, collaborate with Harrods and Selfridges, been featured in Vogue and exhibited at the V&A, Heal’s and the British Museum. Many now contribute directly back into their fields, through teaching and mentoring.
Funding is available to individuals for Scholarships (from £5,000 to £18,000) for a particular course or training; and to businesses (in particular smaller companies) to employ Apprentices (up to £18,000 over 2-3 years). If applying for funding for an Apprenticeship, the application must be a joint one by the employer/apprentice.
Are there any stand out examples of scholars or apprentices that have received QEST funding and support that have particularly inspired you?
Libby Kates is a textile designer specialising in woven fabrics. She studied at Nottingham Trent University where she discovered her love for weaving.
Thanks to a QEST apprenticeship grant in 2015, Libby was able to work full-time with Dash and Miller (set up by past QEST Scholars Juliet Bailey and Franki Brewer), an exciting hand-weaving studio based in Bristol.
Dash and Miller create bespoke designs for clients including Chanel, Calvin Klein and Hugo Boss. QEST’s grant has allowed Libby to develop her design and hand-weaving skills in order to contribute to Dash and Miller’s seasonal portfolio of hand-woven designs for the fashion and interior industries, and seasonal collection of UK produced ready to wear luxury Womenswear fabrics.
Having recently completed her apprenticeship, Libby was offered a full time position at Dash and Miller. She is a valued member of the team and goes regularly on sales trips to New York and Italy with the portfolio of designs.
It is extremely inspiring to see QEST Scholar excelling in their field and passing on their knowledge to new generations. We are always excited when QEST Alumni decide to take on apprentices.
Are you seeing trends emerge with designers paying more attention to their environmental and social impact? Are there any that stand out?
QEST’s exists to support excellence in British craftsmanship, and for many of our Scholars this means using only the best materials, for example UK-sourced leather, paper, clay, willow, weaving wool…
In 2015, QEST funded the apprenticeship of Polly Collins, who is currently learning how to make bespoke shoes with Devon-based Green Shoes. Green Shoes was founded in 1981 with a budget of only £600, with the purpose of making shoes using recyclable leather. In that 35-year history, Green Shoes has since been cited as an ethical shoe-maker and has a loyal international client-base, many of whom live in Japan.
Green Shoes founder (and only shoe maker) Alison Hastie has just turned 60, and passing her skills on to an apprentice was crucial not only to the survival of the business, but of the craft of shoe making in Devon as well.
Why are you excited about Seekd?
It is always exciting to see new platforms for high quality British craftsmanship, and we look forward to receiving applications from all the talented makers on Seekd.
We also really welcome applications for both Scholarships and Apprenticeships from July 2018, with awards in November. Please see our website www.qest.org.uk for more details.