Foreword to the event THE FUTURE HAS A PAST – THE PAST HAS A FUTURE The wise Socrates was a stonemason; the former NRW minister of the interior who launched the first course 10 years ago was as well. A master school at the masons’ lodge of a cathedral is completely unusual, yet it also makes total sense. The Dortmund Chamber of Crafts may consider our masons’ lodge an ideal partner, and in its role as the responsible body of this educational establishment, it acts in an exemplary manner. In previous centuries, the stonemason’s trade has shrunk massively and with accompanying technological developments, professional demands increased. It is still evident that individuality and originality is retained by stonemasons. This profession was the first to impose upon itself a charter and rules, doing so in the form of the regulations of the builders’ huts of the middle ages. From this the guilds and chambers later emerged. Even at the time of the construction of the large cathedrals, the builders’ huts were internationally networked, with the stonemason fraternities moving from building site to building site with great mobility and the master builders benefiting from the developments at other cathedrals.
For a coalescing Europe, in the process of globalisation, this represents an interesting aspect. It was by no means an imitation; it acted in an exemplary manner. The International Meetings on Issues of Vocational Education and Culture in Handcrafts took place in the masons’ lodge and the master school in Soest from 1998. As a result, a European association was formed with the goal of initiating a MASTER OF CRAFT (R) programme across Europe. Even if the master school is not directly linked to a specialised masons’ lodge of a cathedral, there is a fusion of sorts here.
If several key individuals come together who are each gifted with idealism and realism, they can bring something to life. This has happened here in the last few years, through many influential supporters, through active students and lecturers, through volunteers and other committed individuals from the area. The day of the 10th anniversary showed – with lively workshops of some traditional-modern handcrafts – that they have a proud past and can help shape the future. Jürgen Prigl
The ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of the master school took place in the workshop of the masons’ lodge at the cathedral. Numerous stonemasons and stone sculptors have acquired their qualifications here and demonstrated their skills in the master examination. With the first master’s course in 1997, the foundations had been laid to establish these trades in the state of NRW. The founding fathers included the then NRW Minister, Franz-Josef Kniola, and the President of the Dortmund Chamber of Crafts, Otto Kentzler. In a welcoming speech, the Minister of Construction and Transport of North Rhine-Westphalia paid tribute after 10 years to the achievements of the master school for the City of Soest and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. He affirmed the support and funding of the state government.
The President of the Central Association of German Crafts also spoke personally and appreciatively about the national and international achievements of this institution at the masons’ lodge at the cathedral in Soest. He mentioned the “Charter of Soest”, as a founding initiative to the EACD and which, as an institution, brings people together. The tour of some handcrafted cultural creations left visitors astonished. At exhibition stands the craftspeople presented themselves: stonemasons and stone sculptors, tailor, painters roofers, carpenters, blacksmiths and glass painters.
A ritual that has become a tradition was thought of as a tribute to political prominence: the striking of their initials in stone, equivalent to the historical engraving of the stonemason’s mark.