Earlier this year I stumbled across a funding opportunity with Oxford Brookes University called the Student Impact fund. Realising there was enough time before the deadline to put together a considered application; I took the opportunity to write a proposal, which could help finance the next strand of the THIS GIRL MAKES project.
With the help of Dr Lynn Jones and the support of Joseph Bray, both tutors at Oxford’s Rycotewood Furniture Centre, I was successful in my bid for funding. Therefore a lot of my summer was spent researching and planning for the blog’s first printed edition.
In my application I stated that my aims and expected outcomes for this project were:
- To educate its readers and remove the outdated concept of gendered job roles
- To promote craft to a wider range of people in a relevant and relatable way
- To enhance the work that has already been carried out as part of the THIS GIRL MAKES project through the opportunity for further research
- To celebrate female furniture makers and enhance their careers through the promotion of their work
- To help recent graduates of furniture and craft courses enter into employment
- To work with a local printer to produce the book
- An exciting and informative publication that encourages more people to consider furniture design and making as a possible career
- A publication that will form the basis of an exhibition exclusively for female furniture makers
- A wider connected network of craftspeople and furniture makers
- An improved awareness for both others and myself, of how women are influencing the UK’s furniture industry
My process for selecting those to be featured in this publication was a combination of putting out an open invitation on Instagram, as well as approaching designers and makers through different social media platforms, such as Instagram and LinkdIn. My aim was to cover as wide cross-section of the furniture industry as possible, from those taking their GCSEs right through to those who have had their own practice for over twenty years.
I felt it was important to include a feature written by a man, as it is my personal belief that men should not be totally excluded from this topic of discussion. And actually more good might be achieved if we make the dialogue on gender equality more accessible and inviting to men, particularly within an industry such as furniture. However the voices of women should be heard first and foremost, hence the reason they make up the majority of the booklet. I felt it was also important to hear from a range of women’s voices. I therefore did my best to include women of colour and those of different nationalities. However, the fact that this proved quite challenging demonstrates how much work there is still left to do. We need to encourage a variety of women to take up making, not just those who fit the current demographic.
A few weeks ago, I was invited to showcase this project at Oxford Brookes’ Enterprise Fair, where (hopefully) I encouraged more students to apply to the Student Impact Fund and help make a difference to their community.