National Life Stories: Crafts Lives

Mary Restieaux, Ikat woven silk textile, 1982. Image courtesy of Andra Nelki
Mary Restieaux, Ikat woven silk textile, 1982. Image courtesy of Andra Nelki

Crafts Lives collects the memories and experiences of independent designer makers working in British studio crafts. It includes those working in ceramics, glass, metalwork, furniture, jewellery, textiles and book arts, as well as curators and exhibition organisers working across these disciplines.

Published date:

In common with other National Life Story collections, Crafts Lives uses long biographical interviews to situate details of work and career within the context of an entire life. Descriptions of pieces made and the processes of making sit alongside each interviewee’s reflections on life as a craftsperson.

As well as an individual’s life story, the history of the crafts is also recorded.  In the collection it is possible to find clusters of interviewees who were tutors, students and technicians in the same establishment at the same time, helping to build a vivid picture of craft education at places such as the Royal College of Art and the Central School of Arts and Crafts. The collection also maps the influences, friendships and collaborations between individual practitioners and across different generations of craftspeople, as well as the role of organisations such as the Crafts Council.

The project has been running since 1999 and has collected over 140 interviews. To explore the collection in detail, please search the Sound and Moving Image Catalogue. The catalogue reference for all recordings in the project is C960.

Over 80 of the Crafts Lives interviews are available for listening on British Library Sounds.

Advisory committee

  • James Beighton
  • Annabelle Campbell
  • Amanda Game
  • Sarah Griffin
  • Tanya Harrod
  • Helen Joseph
  • John Keatley
  • Martina Margetts

Partners and sponsors

Image: Mary Restieaux, Ikat woven silk textile, 1982. Image courtesy of Andra Nelki



Sound and video recordings from all over the world


National Life Stories

A unique and invaluable record of people’s lives in Britain today

National Life Stories Goodison Fellowship

This award of £5,000 allows the Goodison Fellow a period of sustained engagement with the oral history collections in order to share the results in public domain.

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