At the beginning of June we were delighted to welcome two European visitors to the University of Leeds in connection with the Design Routes research project: Dr Sirpa Kokko, Adjunct Professor and University Lecturer in Craft Science and Textiles Teacher Education at the University of Helsinki in Finland; and Ave Matsin, Head of Department of Native Crafts at Viljandi Culture Academy, part of the University of Tartu in Estonia.
Tom met Sirpa at the Making Futures conference last year, and discovered a shared interest in craft skills and cultural heritage. Sirpa then told us about the fascinating work taking place in Estonia, led by Ave - and we hatched a plan for a visit.
On Day 1 Martyn and I gave a presentation about the Design Routes research, and particularly the taxonomy of revitalisation strategies which forms a major output of the project. Sirpa and Ave then gave fantastic presentations about their work, which gave us a great overview of their interests and experience in culturally significant designs, products and practices. We then took them on a tour of the School of Design, and the three textile-related archives at the University of Leeds.
On Day 2 we organised a series of presentations on completed and ongoing student PhD, MSc and BA projects which connect with the Design Routes research, including work by Dr Meong Jin Shin, Dr Manju Sugathan, Zi Young Kang, Bintan Titisari and Viktorija Sakalyte. Dr Bruce Carnie spoke about the live brief given to Collaborative Marketing students by the National Coppice Federation. We then took a trip to York involving a whirlwind tour of the Minster, lunch and afternoon tea!
On Day 3, to make the most of our remaining time together, Ave, Sirpa and I looked in more detail at the taxonomy of revitalisation strategies, discussing the different approaches and examples of work by staff and students at Viljandi Culture Academy that exemplified different strategies. Both Ave and Sirpa made many very useful suggestions that will feed into the next draft of the taxonomy. By this point we had established that we had much in common and were all very interested in the idea of working together in the future, so to finish off we discussed ideas for future research.
We would like to extend our sincere thanks to Sirpa and Ave for taking the time to come and visit, and we look forward to working with you in the future (whatever the post-Brexit funding landscape may be!).