Letter: Living folk arts of England

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Sir: The belief that canal boat art is the only surviving indigenous folk art in England is erroneous (report, 21 February). The "dressing" of crooks, cleeks and market sticks with ramshorn, heated, pressed and carved, has been practised for many generations.

Ramshorn has been used in many countries for providing the hook at the top of the shepherd's crook but in England the farms were large enough to support a full-time shepherd. The long winter evenings gave time for the shepherd slowly to compress and bend the horn into shape, over the tall "chimney" oil lamp. Carving the horn into animal shapes followed.

There are about a thousand members of the British Stickmakers Guild, who, during the summer months, at agricultural fairs, hold "best stick" competitions. Mercifully, the art world and academia have taken little notice of this craft, practised by the untutored and unselfconscious in garden sheds and barns.


Hornchurch, Essex