Back in the summer of 2015 on my drive down to Cornwall I was faced with a dilemma. Whether to visit the LAND sculpture created by Antony Gormley as part of the 50th birthday celebrations of the Landmark Trust and installed alongside the Stratford upon Avon Canal outside the Landmark property Lengthsman’s Cottage. Or whether to call in at Compton Verney House to view the exhibition “The Arts and Crafts House; then and now”. In the end the Landmark won the day.
Then earlier in January, I don’t remember how I came across it, I found that the Laing Gallery in Newcastle was showing the same exhibition until the 31st of the month. I knew I would get to see it and who I hoped would come with me.
So, on Saturday 23 January I met with my friend June in Newcastle and we visited The Laing, which is the municipal gallery for Newcastle Upon Tyne.
“Devised as a series of encounters between historic and contemporary works, this exhibition traces the origins and legacy of the Arts and Crafts Movement and its fascination with the creation of the home.
Through the work and ideas of John Ruskin and William Morris, the exhibition will explore how subsequent generations of designers created new ways of living and working in an era of collaborative design and experimentation. The exhibition will also look at the link between house and garden and how nature became a primary source of inspiration for designers. Presenting richly diverse media including furniture, textiles, paintings, ceramics, wallpaper, books and photography, the show will bring together objects from important Arts and Crafts collections and houses.
Celebrated designers and collaborators such as Edwin Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll, Alfred and Louise Powell, the Barnsley Brothers and Ernest Gimson will be explored alongside today’s leading designers including: Sebastian Cox, Rosa Nguyen, Andrew Wicks, Jim Partridge and Liz Walmsley. A number of key Arts & Crafts houses will also be featured including Cragside, Morris’ homes at Kelmscott Manor and Red House, Lutyens and Jekyll’s Munstead Wood and Rodmarton Manor.”
Cragside, Northumberland, visited July 2007
Munstead Wood. Hope to visit this year.
It was not just a retelling of the story of the Arts and Crafts Movement but was very much linked to good practice today. I’m afraid I wasn’t very helpful as I took us the wrong way in and we had to work our way forwards to the beginning – but I didn’t feel that it made too much difference. This meant that we spent a lot of time at the start looking (and touching) modern day handmade or finished household items such as crockery, cutlery, brushes, garden implements, etc. This area reminded me very much of a shop I’d visited in Oxford a couple of years ago: Objects of Use.
My Book Brush came from The Home at Salts Mill
There were also some modern day installations plus examples of beautiful craftsman-made wood furniture from today and from late 19th and early 20th centuries. Although originally shown at Compton Verney there were also mentions of local northeast connections influenced by the movement such as Cragside House in Northumberland.
No photography was allowed so I wasn’t going to post about the trip here but then when I got home I thought, Why not? We have used some Morris fabrics and wallpapers in our own home so I’ll go round and photograph what I can find. And here is what I came up with.
1st class stamp Cherries by Philip Webb
The stamp shows a detail from a dining-room wall panel of 1867, now housed in the Victoria & Albert Museum. [website]
On Saturday it was my birthday and I received this William Morris design wrapping paper
Wallpaper Voysey by Morris & Co : Miladysboudoir
Wallpaper Medway by Morris & Co and Liberty Ianthe Curtain : sitting room