A year on from the death of its founding collector, a new exhibition opens next week in the temporary exhibition area of the Hawley Gallery dedicated to his life and work.
It aims to give an insight into Ken Hawley’s many facets as a family man, salesman, shopkeeper, historian and tool collector.
His great legacy dates from 1950 when as a tool salesman he visited a customer to demonstrate a machine and noticed a joiner’s brace of a design that he had not seen before and he went and bought it.
This acquisition was the first of many and features in the exhibition along with personal items, photographs, film and objects from the collection which demonstrate his skills as a researcher, historian and educator.
Brace Yourself!: The Life and Work of Ken Hawley 1927 – 2014 is the second exhibition mounted entirely by volunteers at the Collection as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund project, Sheffield Craft That Built The World – Capturing and Sustaining Knowledge for Future Generations.
For this the Ken Hawley Collection Trust received £83,300 from the HLF for a three-year project centred on the Collection housed at Kelham Island Museum.
The project officer was able to work with Ken Hawley before his death and subsequently other volunteers to gather knowledge on the processes of manufacture of six areas of cutlery and tool making.
The project will enable local, national and international audiences to discover and explore the unique skills used in the making of tools and cutlery. Many of these skills have totally died out, whilst others are only practised by a small handful of craftsmen.
A charitable trust was set up in 1995 to manage and preserve the Collection for future generations.
It was originally housed in the Hawley Building at the University of Sheffield and since 2010 has been at Kelham Island Museum in a building renovated to proved a gallery with permanent exhibition space and storage areas.
This move was made possible by a Heritage Lottery Fund Grant which also funded an audience development officer for three years.
An extension to the Hawley Gallery has recently been completed to house parts of the collection stored in other parts of the museum, as well as provide an open store with public handling area and workshops and research spaces for use by volunteer curators. This was funded by the River Don Millowners Association.
A volunteer team is continuously adding to, investigating and researching the collection and mounting temporary exhibitions in the Hawley Gallery. The first of them – the Nicker Pecker Story, – focusing on hand file cutting, ends on Monday.
Brace Yourself! The Life and Work of Ken Hawley 1927–2014 will run from September to next January.
The Hawley Gallery is open Monday to Thursday 10am-4pm and Sunday, 11am to 4.45pm.