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Report from the Chairman/Hon Sec

The Society of Heraldic Arts

Report from the Chairman/Hon Sec

I have found during my tenure as Chairman and Honorary Secretary of the Society that I often find myself on occasion juggling too many balls in the air being not only the Hon Secretary (and Chairman) of this Society as well holding the office of Hon Secretary of The Heraldry Society, but perversely I enjoy the challenge.  Presently, we have gained much as a society, although we must beware and not risk becoming too complaisant, but I am glad to be able to say that your Society is increasingly pulling its weight in the world of heraldry.

We are growing in all categories.  The numbers are still not large, but I think we can claim to have some of the most eminent craftspeople from all over the world in our number. In addition, our Associate membership, too, both lay and now, with young craftsmen, are making significant contributions to the craft in many different ways as well.  Presently our membership numbers are holding their own.  It is good to learn that more arrive than leave!

Many are the people whom I ought to thank; name one and you must name all, but at the risk of your ire, let me single out our founder, Stephen Friar, FSHA who is giving us a web site of which we can be proud; a web site where prospective clients can see what we have to offer and they are, we know, enquiring and commissioning work from the SHAs and ASHA featured there.  We are grateful to him indeed.  And our gratitude extends in more than ample measure to Ralph Brocklebank, Hon FSHA, for his continued generosity in so many ways, not least making it possible for us to petition for our own grant of arms, crest and badge which we received from the hands of Robert Noel, Lancaster Herald of Arms at a Presentation Lunch at the Royal Air Force Club in London’s Piccadilly in February.  As Stephen Friar said in a recent article in The Heraldic Craftsman, we really have come of age.

Another important point.  Whether you practice the art of heraldry or enjoy looking at it from a castle in Denmark or a flat in Macedonia or even view the subject from a small remote and windswept island in the Hebrides, what we do is a pretty solitary activity.  So, if the SHA acts as a truly international network for contemporary artists to see what their fellows are doing and for the inspiration we derive from those craftspeople of the past, then we are all in a mutually supportive league, a real society despite hardly ever meeting each other.

We do, however, have some problems.  First is the absence of a recruitment strategy which all members will be able to participate in no matter where they live. I hope we will explore this at the AGM.

Second is our patent inability to get members, mostly UK based, to take on some of the less than onerous tasks.

Thirdly we wonder if it is our role to advance the cause of heraldry in those circles which would depose of it, be it academic institutions or a parliament.  But if we do not, who will?  To us, heraldry is an integral part of our visual world, art in many different media according to age old principles, which unlike most logos evokes emotion and brings the past into today and the future.  In the UK when there were other bodies and societies which should have led the charge against a know-nothing committee of the House of Lords over the parchment issue, it was the SHA which was the acknowledged voice of protest.  Is the heraldic education of architects, design companies and those responsible for the reputation of their organisations and, indeed their families, a responsibility which we should take on? Our web site and quarterly journal would be excellent purveyors of the message but what student would know to look us up on line and we have not the funds to even send free copies of The Heraldic Craftsman out.

Having written all this, I still find the Society a delight to be associated with and my fellow officers make it doubly so. My thanks to them and to all members.  I commend this report to you.


John J. Tunesi of Liongam

Chairman (and Honorary Secretary)

The Society of Heraldic Arts

10th April 2017