Last month saw the launch of our new Commonwealth Bursaries—welcoming 4 students from overseas Commonwealth countries to the UK for an exciting training opportunity at The Prince's Foundation's Summer School, which took place at the charity's Dumfries House headquarters in July 2022.
The bursary holders this year were: Abigail Charles from Trinidad and Tobago, Zaryah Harewood from Barbados, Katherine Smith from the British Virgin Islands, and MS Srinivas from India.
The Commonwealth Bursary holders were among a range of Summer School participants taking part in a series of lectures, drawing exercises, and practical craft workshops over a period of three weeks. All were tutored in building craft skills and the theory behind design and practice in the conservation of heritage buildings; in line with the aims of the Commonwealth Heritage Forum and the new Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Commonwealth Heritage Skills Training Programme.
Week 1 of the Summer School saw the students undertaking activities in clay modelling, life drawing, landscape drawing, sketch carving, geometry and proportion, plaster mould carving, and tile pressing—alongside a series of talks and lectures on Modernism and Conservation, traditional architecture, and different types of building materials.
Week 2 was “Craft Week” in which the students experienced working in Blacksmithing, Lime Rendering & Earth Building, Stone Masonry and Hot Limes; and Timber Framing. They worked across many of the craft workshops, as you can see above! Additionally all Summer School participants enjoyed a series of lectures from Dr. Reg Murphy, Secretary General, National Commission UNESCO Antigua and Barbuda—who was at the Summer School as the Commonwealth Tutor (as you can see below).
Week 3 was the Tile Vaulting Workshop with Wesam Asali and Salvador Gomis Aviño from the Centro Educativo para la Regeneración de Construcción y Arquitectura Artesanal. The participants learned about the history and modelling of vaults, before undertaking a practical group project to design and build their own thin-tile vaults.
The Commonwealth Bursaries are intended for those developing a career in the heritage and conservation sectors, and with the desire to use and develop their skills to improve the historic built environment for this, and future, generations.
You can learn about this year’s Commonwealth Bursary holders, and their experience on the Summer School, below.
For more information on this exciting initiative, and to keep on eye out for this opportunity in future years, visit our Current Opportunities page.
Abigail Charles (Trinidad and Tobago)
Abigail, 33, from San Juan, has earned degrees in architecture and project management and has assisted in church restorations and design and preservation of civic buildings in her home country.
Speaking about the hands-on training, Abigail stated that: “This experience has been great for me because I usually come into design from a more theoretical perspective.”
“I’m really enjoying my time on the course, which is so varied,” she said. “My aim here is to try to get hands-on tactile practical experience in the preservation side of things.”
Zaryah Harewood (Barbados)
Zaryah, 19, from Christ Church, is a student at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology, studying carpentry and joinery. He is an aspiring architect who is utilising the course to begin learning about new trades, with the ultimate aim to establish his own small business.
"When I heard about the scholarship, although a bit hesitant, as I felt many persons who had more experience than me would have applied. However, I took the chance, as I had the desire to learn new techniques and skills, which may not be available in Barbados” Zaryah has previously said. "I view the scholarship as developmental, exposing me to new techniques and skills.”
Katherine A. Smith (British Virgin Islands)
Katherine, 52, from Tortola, is the Director of Culture at the Government of the British Virgin Islands. She is an historian by training and has proposed a new cultural heritage unit, and is set to establish a major conservation and restoration programme for historic sites and buildings.
Speaking about the Summer School, Katherine said: “This experience has been amazing because I’m getting so much hands-on experience, and that’s really important. Just to participate in the process, and then see how it’s all done in terms of hot limes and how to restore stone buildings.”
“The first week was great too,” Katherine shared. “To me it was all about the traditional arts, and it gave me such a different outlook on our visual arts and how they speak to culture and humanity.”
MS Srinivas (India)
MS, 23, from Delhi, has just finished his architectural degree at the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, and is pursuing a career in conservation and heritage.
“I’m here to start understanding the practical skills that go behind the conservation of a building,” he shared. “I really appreciate the crafts that go in to the conservation more. A lot of it looks far easier than it actually is.”
This trip was MS’s first time outside of India—but he will be coming back to the UK in September, to begin his MSc Architectural History and Theory at the University of Edinburgh as the inaugural Commonwealth MA Scholar.