The craft renaissance

As long ago as the 1960s, the poet Edward James was worried that traditional crafts were dying out. Having frittered much of the family fortune he had inherited, aged five, on supporting struggling surrealists (he commissioned the Mae West lips sofa and lobster telephone from a scuffling Dali) and on backing shows starring his actress girlfriends (‘very wealth-consuming,’ he admitted, ‘because invariably they flopped’) then creating an 80-acre sculpture garden in the Sierra Gorda mountains of Mexico, the man described as ‘the last of the great eccentrics’ decided in his late fifties to invest his remaining money in something more sensible. So in 1964 he founded the Edward James Foundation