The roots of Farnham’s engagement with craft can be dated back to the time when Farnham exported white clay to the Romans. In the 16th century, potteries in Farnham were major suppliers of pottery to London. But its real emergence as a town with a special leaning towards craft is in the Victorian era and the establishment and great success of The Farnham Pottery, Wrecclesham, with its reputation for the distinctive style of work known as Greenware (so called because of the copper-green glaze).

The establishment of The Farnham School of Art in 1880 strongly promoted the education in craft subjects as part of its curriculum, and a powerful reputation was developed that has lasted throughout the 20th century and to the present day especially in courses in textiles and ceramics. Craft courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels are offered at the University for the Creative Arts at Farnham, the successor institution to the Art School. Craft courses in jewellery, metalwork, glass as well as in textiles and ceramics offer today’s emerging craft makers unrivalled opportunities in some of the best equipped studios and workshops in any specialist university in the country.

The opportunity to exhibit, sell and present contemporary crafts in Farnham is a significant feature of the town’s creative programme. The emergence of the Farnham Maltings as an arts centre in the 1970s has been of especial importance to the cultural life of Farnham, and the crafts have very strongly featured in its contemporary programme: right at the heart of its diverse cultural offer. There are year-round exhibitions featuring young as well as world class craft makers. There is a particular focus on the craft fair, with an unrivalled series of events featuring everything from textiles to sugarcraft, drawing international audiences to the town and having a powerful and positive effect on the creative economy. Craft studios are established in the Farnham Maltings to sustain the craft infrastructure.

Craft across the centuries can been seen and researched from Farnham Greenware in the town’s museum through to the unrivalled collections of the Crafts Study CentreThe New Ashgate Gallery offers a diverse range of craft work for sale and is especially focused on creating opportunities for emerging makers.

In 2012, Farnham was one of ten towns to receive £10,000 of funding from the Town Teams programme to increase interest and visitors to the town. It made sense to build on Farnham’s rich heritage in craft and Craft Town England was born…

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