PETS/ PEATS Participants Reports

This page is where you will find reports and photos from participants about their experiences on our PETS/PEATS placements.

Placement: Slovakia Lisov  Host: Lisov Museum

“The entire month was planned out perfectly. We were extremely privileged to have such attentive hosts. Adriana and Jakob were so very welcoming. There was never a day when we had nothing to do – which I loved. I enjoy being busy.” Robbie Montgomery, Slovakia

Participant, July-August 2017: “On the Traditional skills in Slovakia trip I learnt many new skills and crafting and  building techniques with a lot of different materials the i had never used before. This included building a celtic roundhouse using a wattle and daubing method, using lime, clay and sand to build a sculpture/ 3-D mural on the front of a building, stone and wood carving and using  very old loom to weave together thread and textile scraps to make a wall hangings or rug. It was brilliantly rewarding to learn so many new skills and our hosts, Jakub and Adriana were always patient in teaching us and willing to let us have a go at doing whatever we wanted.  The village was beautiful and once I settled in i felt very welcome. Everyone who lived there was wonderfully friendly and appreciative and complementary of the work we were doing. The house we stayed in was nice and spacious and stayed cool even though the weather most of the time was over 30 degrees (though sharing a bathroom between 7 was sometimes challenging!). We were never short of things to do on evenings and weekends, as Jakub and Adriana were always very willing to and excited about taking us to different interesting places and on walks in the surrounding countryside and forests.”

Placement: Romania Host: Satul Verde

“Overall I feel the placement has widened my understanding of how people in different cultures approach life differently. It has made me appreciate nature more and how natural ingredients can be used instead of synthetic ones, it has built on my textile skills I gained at GCSE, has given me the opportunity to meet and make new friends and increase my confidence.” Antonia Fitchett, Romania

Placement: Bulgaria Host: Devetaki Plateau Association

“During our time away we learnt how to work with ceramics which was something i found deeply interesting and inspiring especially as we were able to stay in the artist home and work alongside him. We also experimented with felt, jewellery making, woodwork and shaping metal bells. I love these small but amazing insight into the Bulgarian crafts and i feel i’m able to translate these experiences into my own practice especially my work with with ceramics. I also appreciated the time in the rural areas and it allowed you some head space and time to really think about your work” Samantha Dick, Bulgaria

Participant, Aug-Sept 2017: “After completing the 32 day placement in Bulgaria, I have come back with a lot of knowledge, of their culture, crafts and country. The placement was a once in a lifetime opportunity, we learnt a lot about the traditional crafts in Bulgaria, I also made a lot of friends while doing it. The group we were with were all very kind and this truly was a once in a lifetime experience. We visited a few places throughout the placement and some were easier to remember and pronounce than others. The highlight of the trip for me was when we learnt how to make jewellery. Overall this was a very informative and enjoyable experience and in will definitely be returning to Bulgaria in the future. Thanks again to the whole team at grampus, without them this wouldn’t be possible.”

Placement: Ireland Host: Woodcutter Steven Burke 

“The project was incredibly thoughtful, giving me real scope to develop while learning a breadth of new approaches to teaching in practical activities. Being able to spend a little time immersing myself in the local area, the culture and community was a significant boost to the program’s effectiveness. Our host in particular defined the whole experience with his presence of mind, wit and wisdom. It was a blessing that I will carry with me all my life” Benjamin Cox, Ireland staff placement

Participant, June-July 2017:”…have had such an excellent time on the grampus courses and  have learned so much.  And actually been able to put the skills ave learned into my work  place. Ireland was a special place, which inspired me to go help out on a community build roundhouse build in Stroud. I was wondering if there where any more available places in the future, or even if we can bring a course over here.  I think it would be a great group of people meeting up and transferring knowledge. I know since ave had two courses am prob only a limited are aloud, but if there’s a change I would love to get more involved… the learning of new skills…exciting people… the biggest pleasure is getting to experience cultures, I had only wish to go to as a kid. ”

Placement: Slovakia Lisov  Host: Lisov Museum

“The experience I had during the month away was extremely rewarding, engaging and unique. I learned a great deal of traditional skills – we built a bread oven using traditional methods, made a rug on a traditional loom, wove baskets and excavated a cave house amongst other things. Our hosts took us to lots of different sites of historical interest and were extremely knowledgable on them, constantly looking for ways to teach use new things, both practical and educational. The key experiences I will take away from my time away is the satisfaction I got from helping to build and renovate using traditional methods – something I will continue in my own work at art school, and the insight into a way of life different to my own.” Antonia Bruce, Slovakia

Participant, July-August 2017: “Throughout the trip I learned a range of new traditional skills such as using wattle and daub to create an Celtic style round house, using robinea and hazel to weave a fence to got around the mask gallery building, designing and making a mask design to go on the front of the museum, designing and painting a design onto the front of one of the other buildings within the museums grounds. We also had the opportunity to learn and use the old original loom to weave our own rugs or wall hangings. The host Adriana gave me a one-to-one lesson on how to make a coffee bag from her own personal business, which was an honour to  learn a skill she had created and designed herself. The last two days we started restoring an old cave house, it’s a shame we didn’t get more time to be involved in this project, but I would love the chance to go back and help out on it further, or just to be kept up to date will developments on it. It will be interesting to see how it looks when it is finished. Since being home from this experience I have already carried on with the technique weaving and it will heavily influence my third year studies in uni. The whole trip in general was amazing, to be able to go away to a country I had never thought to go to,and live with 6 other people I have never met is something I would never usually do and took me completely out of my comfort zone. However I am so glad I experienced it and would definitely consider doing it again in the future, I didn’t just learn new skills but I also learned so much about working in a team, communication skills and a lot about myself. To be able to learn a range of traditional skills and just to experience the culture made the experience so worth while. I like to thank Grampus and everyone I met during the month.”

Placement: Bulgaria Host: Devetaki Plateau Association

Participant, July 2016: I have left with lots of new and exciting skills and material that I can’t wait to use for future projects. As well as learning some fascinating crafts and culture which I can definitely feed into my studies back here in the UK, everyone we met along this journey was unbelievably kind, and I’m sure I’ll be back to visit our new Bulgarian friends in the future!

Placement: Bulgaria Host: Devetaki Plateau Association

Participant, July 2016: “I have just returned from the Bulgaria trip, and wanted to say a big thank you to all at Grampus for running such an amazing programme. I have left with lots of new and exciting skills and material that I can’t wait to use for future projects! Even more special have been the people that we have met along the way. It really has been a brilliant experience for me, and I can’t thank everyone involved enough!”

Estera Polak, 2014 participant: “Friendship between girls from Scotland and Bulgaria , basics of Bulgarian language ,beautiful views( i am photographer) I have learned how to cook traditional Bulgarian food, how to cooperate with other girls in one house ( students experience)  i become more creative”

Isabella Mitchell 2013 participant: “free time activities Walks, attending folk festivals, museums and monasteries. Going swimming and foraging. Cooking, reading, sketching, sunbathing. Going out for dinner or staying together and cooking group meals. Going for runs or doing yoga in the mornings. Playing cards and generally a lot of chatting as a group.”

John McTernan 2012 participant: “Velislava Chillingirova was our guide and tourism expert throughout the placement. We were met by her at Sophia airport and taken to our first destination Teteven. We stayed in self-catering accomodation for 9 days and learnt how to carve wood. Our Master trainer was Rayko Raykov. We started working with Rayko at 10.00 in the morning, he started off teaching us the basics of traditional wood carving and by the end of the week we used our acquired skills to carve into the top of a wooden jewelry box. We went on expeditions around Teteven where we met plenty of Locals all of whom were more than happy to help us with our language skills. Before arriving at our second destination, Velis took us to a handful of very interesting places in Troyan. In Troyan we visited the Crafts Museum and the Troyan Monastery which were both completely new experiences. We then drove to Drashkova Polyana and stayed with our next master trainer Encho Gankovski and his wife Vili. We were met with a warm welcome (especially by Buck the dog). We spent time on the first night viewing Vili’s photographs which I was very excited about. Our task list for ceramics included making vessels and figures by hanbuilding with slabs, making a thrown pot, a jewelry box and a plaque. I absolutely loved working on the old medieval style wheel and felt my skills improved dramatically. On an allocated day off from the ceramics training we had the chance to take part in a traditional Bulgarian dance class. I wasn’t very good but I had an absolute blast. Eating food from a BBQ high up in the Balkans was a highlight and something I will always remember. Our Final stay was In Etar, an open air museum near Garbrovo. Etar was an amazing place to be situated as it was built to recreate an old Bulgarian town. All the machinery was powered by water and the architecture was exactly the same as the models we saw in a museum whilst in Troyan that displayed pre electricity Bulgarian living. Our first challenge was to learn how to make copper bells. This was especially exciting due in part to the energetic process involving fire and hammers. At this point we had been assigned a translator to help us communicate with local people. Our translator Gergana was helpful and friendly. on the last day we attended a dinner and were given certificates for our work with corn and natural dyes. It was a fantastic experience and a great way to end a very special experience. Before leaving for home, we spent the night in Sofia.”

Placement: Ireland Host: Woodcutter Steven Burke, July 2016

participant 2016: “Spending time at Steven’s smallholding was highly rewarding and enjoyable. The tools were different to anything I had used before and his natural, holistic approach made the woodwork that much more interesting and new. As well as having a cracking sense of humor, Steven is a highly skilled but very modest woodsman, having undertaken massive barn projects and there is a lot to be learned from him, as so we did. On the weekends, we used the hire car to take excursions off around Ireland (which as a small island, we covered a fair amount of the country). In this regard, learning how to live with others is a large part of the course too. Staying with his family, who are so warm and get up to lots of interesting things, made the long stay away from home an absolute pleasure. They let us into their home, arms open and allowed us to borrow anything we wanted; from books to guitars, bikes and their own personal tents. They wanted us to see the best that Ireland a beautiful country has to offer whilst really acting with a huge amount of pastoral care. Tina, Stevens lovely wife is a woman of many talents, cooked us lunch every day, from scratch using her fresh organic food from the garden. It was lovely to learn about her garden that she spends so much time caring for-everything is edible! It seems that there is not enough to do or say that is enough to thank them for my time with them. Thank you anyway!”

participant 2016: “… I hope that everything I learnt stays with me, I can already see some things have, as I have begun gardening, continued carving, and also been enjoying time on my own a lot more walking through nature spotting trees I recognize! If you have the chance to go to Ireland and spend time working with Steven I would take it. What an opportunity it was! My time there put knowledge in my head, happiness in my heart and tears in my eyes, maybe one day I’ll have the pleasure of meeting these lovely folk again, but until then I share my love, gratitude and warm wishes!”

Rachael Docherty, 2014 participant: “I gained a lot of practical skills on my placement which I am certain will be useful to my current subject of study. I learnt a lot about woodwork and most importantly, how to use the tools. I also feel that I learnt how to live with the people I was working with on the course. We were there a long time and we all had to get along and, although it was sometimes a challenge , I feel that I managed to adapt and get along with most of my peers and made some good friends too.”

Robyn Anderson, 2014 participant: ” In the evenings I would usually relax in the house after work and myself and my roommate would usual go for a drive somewhere, either to go see some of the Galway arts festival or down to lochrae to jump in the lake. In general just exploring roundabout us. On the weekends we took a trip down to Lahinch to go for a surfing lesson and then roadtrip back up the coastline through the Burren which was a beautiful. I also sent time with the host’s wife and daughter ridding horses which was great fun.”

Ryan Gallagher, 2013 participant: “As a group we started off at the workshop on the land of the Host organisation. On the first day we where shown what we where meant to be doing. The first bent ( first section of the building ) was already made to give us an indication of what we where meant to reproduce. We were then shown how to mark out and cut the joints that where required to make the first bent. The host was a really nice guy. He would assist us when we needed help and was always understanding and helpful through out this project.  The afternoon on the day we were going camping we ate out for lunch and this was the first time that we had really watched TV. We went camping in around Dogs Bay which is around Clifden at the coast. We drove into the local village to see what their culture was like and to find some where to get something for dinner. We went a walk a long the beach. Went into the City of Galway and seen some of the entertainment that was on in the streets. We were in Galway when the Arts festival was taken Place. The host was very accommodating as we borrowed bikes and went a cycle into Athenry and then got the train to Galway. We went camping again the 3rd week because we enjoyed it so much. The  last weekend we had a bonfire to top off everything that we had achieved throughout our time begin there.”

John Hulme, 2012 participant: “Professional:  more strings to my bow, getting better at working with wood is crucial to my select career/life path and I found it very interesting and learnt so much Personal: great to work in a group and notice and learn from group dynamics and different people.  Try and organise weekends well.”

Placement: Iceland  Host: NAVE, July 2016

“We spent our first week in Iceland in the North West of the island (Westfjords) in a little town called Pingyeri, where we helped a woman called Kristina build a wall around her garden using rocks that were found in the remote hillside. We helped her every morning from 8am to 12pm. We learned what rocks were most suited to sustain a sturdy wall that would last for centuries to come. Kristina was a bubbly character and gave me a warm welcome to the start of our month in Iceland. Each afternoon after lunch we walked to the local blacksmiths where a man called Danny worked. Here my creative skills were put to great use as I learned how heat iron to very high temperatures until the iron was white hot and shape it into various objects. I made a fork, knife, necklace and a coat hanger! The local press came to visit and took some pictures that were published in the paper and online.”

Placement: Iceland  Host: NAVE, July 2016

“Taking part in the placement in Iceland was a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience a new country, not just in a superficial way, but to engage with people living there and the traditional/ modern skills they practice. … A big thank you to everyone who organised the trip! Spending a month with three new people taught me a lot about my own strengths and weaknesses. The photographs I took are an important source of inspiration to me in my art/ wood work. I continue to think about the people we met and the ideas which were raised in my mind through being in that amazing landscape.”

Placement: Romania  Host: Satul Verde

“I took part in a specialist training with willow and hazel basket weaving techniques. In particular I was interested in the traditional basketry skills that utilise hazel, rather than willow. This is a skill set that was once traditional in parts of the UK, but has now been almost completely lost. In learning and gaining insight from the Roma people about techniques and methods involved, I hope to start experimenting and passing on basic skill and awareness in this craft.” Lisa Fenton, Romania Staff

Susan Steele, 2015 participant: “This experience was amazing and I would highly recommend it, and Romania to everyone. Infact at the moment I’m trying to organise an exhibition on the course and the skills we learnt in Romania, using the work I did as examples as well as photos and written accounts from the other students/instructors. We changed to Sibui where we did the mask making, which was actually why I got interested in the project in the first place. Our instructors there were Ana and Ioana, again we were invited into the family and what an amazing family it is. I loved working alongside them and seeing the methods they used in both the mask making and glass painting. It is personally very different to how I work,which is fast and emotional….this taught me to slow down,be methodical..this was totally the type of experience that I wanted..take me out my comfort zone and add something else to my work. Everyday we worked and when weren’t working we were on cultural visits, Romania has so many special places, or spending time with the other groups sampling local food and drink. It was intensive and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”

Alex Sharpe, 2015 participant: “An absolutely wonderful project and company to be associated with. Grampus more than fulfilled my needs withy the month long vocational training in traditional. All associated partners we worked with were wonderful and couldn’t do more for us. An excellent experience and one I will never forget.”

Placement: Slovakia  Host: Krajina SK

“We learnt many traditional crafts including Bobbin Lace, Tenerife Lace, Needle point Lace, Hand Weaving, Loom Weaving, Felting and Macrame, our Slovak art teacher Zlatica was amazing. We also visited many of Slovakia’s beautiful sights- we often visited churches and castles, we also rowed in the Tatras mountains and went on boat trips. All of my experiences were incredible and I will certainly remember them forever!

the trip was incredible and I feel very honoured to have gone on it. The crafts learnt were very interesting and I loved the opportunity to learn something new! The host was very friendly and accommodating as was our tutor and translater, I made memories I will have forever and experiences I will never forget.” Olivia Wilson, Slovakia

Savanah Avery, 2015 participant: “I would simply like to say that I had the most incredible time, our host Miro, was more than helpful and made the learning and cultural experience much better than I could ever have imagined. I will defiantly take my new found skills with me to enhance my studies.”

Alanna Hilton, 2014 participant: “I gained a huge amount from this placement, foremost I now have a basic grasp of crotchet, weaving, macrame, gatra and bobbin lace, which I will continue to develop over the coming years with the hope to use some of these techniques in the garments of my graduate collection.  As far as i am aware these techniques are not taught on my course, so in such a competitive market it will be a huge asset to be able to use these techniques in my work.  Although the main focus of this trip was obviously the textile skills, we also went on a hike through the Tatra mountains, visited the museum of icons in Bardejov and on a raft trip down the river Dunajec, which seperates Slovakia from Poland.  From the experience I also gained an appreciation of a new culture and language and new Slovak and British friends. I think familiarising yourself with the textile techniques and thinking about what kind of  things you might want to make beforehand, would  be a great help.”

Corinne Desport, 2014 participant: “I enjoyed the learning experience  of the skills taught in another country”

Kimberley Tam, 2013 participant: “It is well worth doing! Enjoyed every minute of it, i prefered staying at kezmarok as there is more to do if the weather isnt good. Be prepared to get alot of looks! I liked the freedom we had to choose what activites we wanted to do. The lessons were also very free, Maria, the crochet teacher was lovely. Dont go to the polish market. slovak paridise was beautiful!”

Placement: Cyprus  Host: Kato Drys

Lucy Elloway, 2015 participant: “My work placement with Grampus Heritage exceeded all my expectations, our hosts were attentive and our accommodation was lovely. I have learnt many creative skills that were relevant to area we were based in. I believe that these practices gave me an even deeper understanding of the village’s history and culture and greatly enriched my experience. I would recommend these placements to any person who is interested in working in a interesting environment abroad and who is keen to learn and value traditional skills.”

Placement: Turkey  Host: Sultanhisar Halk Egitim Merkezi

Chantelle Matthews, 2015 participant: “I was a mature student in a mixed age group, we were very lucky in the composition of the group, that worked willingly together and cooperated on many issues. We were very warmly received by the host organisation. And overall I think it was a life changing experience.”

Placement: Cyprus  Host: Cyprus College of Art

Charley Vines, accompanying person for the group: “The students from UCA had a productive time in Cyprus, resulting in a group exhibition showing an insight into the work that they made during their stay at the Cyprus College of Art. Many of the students took on the extra space they had to work in (compared to their studios at the University), resulting in larger scale ambitious works and installations. They were able to access the materials they wanted to work with, whilst at the same time using those that surrounded them and were accessible to them. Often, students informed each other in uses of different materials, and strategies for display. It was clear that the time in Cyprus was wholly beneficial to all who were there, accessibility to studios 24 hours a day proved fruitful, as some were keen to work early and others keen to work late. The group got on together very well, and shared social experiences that also provided a platform for useful conversations surrounding the work they were making. In the last week of the trip, once the exhibition was up, the students formed smaller groups and took trips around the area and the island, taking in the archaeological sites and museums, as well as travelling further afield to Nicosia and Larnaca.”

Placement: Cyprus Host: Cyprus College of Art

Stefania Zefkili, 2015 participant: “Even though I stayed for a small period of time, it was a great opportunity and I would definetely do it again. I also recommend it to every student as it is a life time experience. I wish I will be able to do it next year. It is also very helpful for my CV. We also had pottery lessons outside of the university wich was a completely new field of the arts for me and it has helped me to realize what field I want to deal in my life. Also the people I met there were amazing. I can not thank you enough for this opportunity.”

Placement: Turkey Host: Pamukkale University

“On the training programme in Turkey, I learnt about traditional Turkish heritage and art. I was able to apply what I had learnt and create some art pieces of my own, which were displayed at a final exhibition. I gained so much knowledge about Turkish culture and really enjoyed the community aspect of everything, which sometimes lacks in my sociocultural environment. I particularly enjoyed the excursions and I felt like I could retain a lot of what was being taught in the classroom because I was able to place some context to environment and art. In some instances, I was really pushed out of my comfort zone in the sense of what I am used to in my particular environment and having to adapt to a new culture. But I felt like I took this in my stride and there were many instances where I had immersed myself so well within the environment that many of the locals thought that I too was a local. I think this trip taught me many things that I could take away such as resilience, art skills, cultural understanding and confidence. I would definitely do a study abroad programme again.” Michelle Adams, Turkey

“The most important experiences from my trip we’re definitely learning about the traditional ottoman crafts, in particular tecip painting, studying pattern and embroidery. For me these were the most important because they have already influenced me in my future creative career and I will definitely use what I have learnt through out my life and career.” Eloise-Rose Philpot, Turkey.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission

This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.