A COPPERSMITH has recently completed a year of travel and study in France, Greece, and India to learn more about the ancient origins and modern contexts of her craft.
St Leonards-based Siân Evans, is one of only a very small number of coppersmiths still working in the south east.
In fact the only other one she knows of personally is the man who taught her the craft more than 20 years ago, Sam Fanaroff.
She said: “I know it’s a cliche, but it’s one of those things that calls you.
“It was word of mouth that a friend knew this chap in Pevensey, and I have never looked back, I just love the metal so much.”
Siân was one of 105 people out of 940 applicants awarded a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship last year.
These are awarded to British citizens from all walks of life to enable them to travel overseas and bring back knowledge for the benefit of others in the UK.
A mother-of-four, Siân split the travel into two phases in order to fit in with family commitments.
Last summer Siân spent two weeks in France working with master craftsmen in Normandy, before flying on to Athens to examine the ancient artefacts in the museums there.
“I had 10 days of blissful study in the museums,” she said. “Very little in the hand tools has evolved at all, it was really life affirming.”
At the beginning of 2012 Siân then travelled to India for three weeks, meeting Tibetan copper repoussé artists in the Himalayas, discovering hidden smiths in Varanasi and seeing for herself how the Chola bronze sculptures of Tamil Nadu are made.
She was presented with her Churchill Fellowship Medallion in Westminster by Paralympian Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, and will remain a fellow for life.
At the moment coppersmiths may be thin on the ground, however Siân had a huge amount of interest in her work following her appearance in the second series of popular Channel 4 programme Kirsty’s Homemade Home in 2010.
Siân’s long-term aim is to safeguard and develop the craft in the UK, passing on through apprenticeship those skills she has been shown, and she believes the future of the craft lies in this and fair-trade partnerships.
She said that her time abroad had without doubt left a lasting impression, adding: “Come back to me in a year, and you will definitely see a little bit of India in there.”
The Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship is currently open to applications. To find out more visit the website www.wcmt.org.uk. To read more about Siân’s adventures see her report at www.wcmt.org.uk/reports/897_1.pdf or visit www.coppersmithing.co.uk.