The Worshipful Company of Turners

Supporting the Craft, City and Charity for over four hundred years

‘Almost too many achievements to list’, Freeman Ray Key has been awarded the new ‘Master in Turning’ award.

Inspired by the work of the Livery Companies Skills Council and the Master Certificate Task Group, the Turners Company has created this award. Past master Peter Ellis explains ‘Given UK turning has no formal accredited qualifications, albeit one currently being created, the Company determined the title of ‘Master in Turning’ should be a lifetime achievement award for those in the craft of turning who have given many years of outstanding service to the craft, attained high levels of skill and excellence, achieved wide and possibly international recognition whilst contributing to the wider development of the craft.’

Ray received the award from Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE, during Wizardry in Wood and this comes with many congratulations.

The Worshipful Company of Turners, inspired by the work of the Livery Companies Skills Council and the Master Certificate Task Group decided to create the award of ‘Master in Turning’. Given that turning in the UK has no formal accredited qualifications, albeit these are currently being created, the Company determined that the title of ‘Master in Turning’ should be a lifetime achievement award for those in the craft of turning who have given many years of outstanding service to the craft, attained high levels of skill and excellence, achieved wide and possibly international recognition whilst contributing to the wider development of the craft.

A panel of assessors chaired by the Master Turner, Peter Gibson, and consisting of members of the Company and senior representatives of the three main craft associations within the United Kingdom, met earlier this year to consider suitable candidates and it was decided to make only one award to Freeman Ray Key.

This award was presented during the week of our quadrennial Wizardry in Wood exhibition and our biennial national turning competition, held at Carpenters’ Hall in October 2012. Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE kindly agreed to present both the turning prizes and this first ever ‘Master in Turning’ award in modern times. The magnificent setting of Carpenters’ Hall, with a backdrop of the thrones from the Royal Barge, an incomparable display of turned work and an audience so large that it was standing room only, made for a perfect setting for such a prestigious event.

Past Master Peter Ellis read out the sponsor’s citation and introduced Freeman Ray Key. This citation wassponsored by Reg Hawthorne, chairman of the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain and seconded by Guy Ravine, chairman of the Register of Professional Turners.

The citation read that his achievements are almost too many to list. Ray is in constant demand to demonstrate his acclaimed techniques and style in many countries and at club meetings around the United Kingdom. He teaches every year at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Tennessee and has given presentations on numerous occasions at the Association of American Woodturners International Seminars and at the Utah Seminars as well as Seminars in Canada, Ireland, Norway, New Zealand, Israel, France and Germany. He is both President and a life member of the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain. He is President of the Worcestershire Guild of Designer Craftsmen and a life member of The Association of American Woodturners – the only life member outside of the USA.

Ray was the founding chairman of the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain and was involved in the early stages of the formation of the American Association and the Irish Guild. He is the person to whom everyone comes for advice on both turning and organisational matters. His prodigious memory is a constant source of help and information. Very generous with pieces for charity auctions and in supplying cut timber for youth training events.

Ray wrote his first book on Woodturning and Design in 1985 and since then he has written a further two books and numerous videos, together with regular articles in the woodturning press and associated journals. His work is displayed in the International Craft Museum (Kuala Lumpa), Contemporary Craft Museum (Honolulu), Kunstgewerbe Museum (Berlin), Detroit Institute of Arts & Crafts, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts (USA), Woodturning Centre (USA) and at museums in the UK which include Abingdon, Birmingham, Stoke, the British Council Craft Study Centre, the Parnham House Collection, Victoria and Albert and the Fitzwilliam.

Without doubt Ray is one of the premier figures in world turning, he is a member of the Register of Professional Turners and an ambassador both for our craft and the Company. In addition to being an outstanding exponent of turning he has, in parallel with his vast output, made an exemplary contribution to expanding and promoting the art and mystery of woodturning around the world. I can think of no one else in this country that has done as much to promote and establish the craft. His dedication to the creation and development of the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain has been extraordinary whilst, at the same time, working to become one of the finest professional turners in the world.I do not believe there is a more deserving and appropriate first recipient of this prestigious Turners Company lifetime achievement award in modern times.

The Master Turner, Peter Gibson, then read out ‘The Charge’, which was followed by the presentation of his certificate by Alderman Fiona Woolf CBE, after which Freeman Ray Key responded with a short speech of thanks.

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