Loom and gloom for traditional weaving

A LEADING art college has been accused of consigning Scotland's traditional weaving skills to the "craft dustbin".

Professional weavers and textile students at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee united in condemning a management decision to axe weaving from the curriculum as a cost- cutting measure.

Undergraduates, some of whom were reduced to tears by the announcement, claimed the decision had left them no time to seek an alternative place on similar courses at other colleges in Britain. One leading Scottish weaver described the decision to drop weaving from the textile design course as "insane".

A fourth-year student at the college said the decision had come as a "bolt from the blue", and she revealed: "The girls in second year were all in tears when they were told what was happening."

James Donald, a leading Edinburgh-based weaver and former student at the art college, said he was "appalled" by the decision.

He said: "This cannot be allowed to happen. The current third year will be the last cohort of students to be taught these valuable hand skills, and thereafter it will no longer be offered as a subject.

"Weave at Dundee will go the same way as ceramics – to the craft dustbin, which is all the more ironic and insane when Duncan of Jordanstone considers itself a place of excellence for the crafts."

"This is a sad day for all who believe that Scotland has a rich cultural craft heritage."

He added: "While I understand finance is an issue for universities and colleges as a whole across the UK, this has been handled very poorly by management, who are incredibly out of touch with current thinking within the craft sector."

Mr Donald said he believed the college was the only place in Scotland where weave was taught, apart from the Scottish College of Textiles in Galashiels.

A spokesman for the college said weaving had required a staff-to-student ratio of two to one and that a "disproportionately high and growing" percentage of the budget was being absorbed by the relatively small number of students who specialised in weaving.

He added: "We completely understand why some of our second-year students are upset by the decision, and we are doing all we can to help them adjust."

Georgina Follett, the Dean of the college, said: "This was a difficult choice, made after considerable discussion within the discipline itself and evaluating likely take-up numbers in the future.

"The second-year students affected have been supported to look at the other options available within the discipline and, whilst we completely understand their individual disappointments, everything will be done to ensure that they are able to learn craft practices within a textile skill set."

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