Court Barn banner
Home  >  Methods
Buildings are put up by builders. Architects get involved in the more complicated or precious ones. Around 1900 English architects building in the country liked to model their work on humble, buildings, the local vernacular. The old stone buildings of the Cotswolds inspired excellent work of this kind, which can be seen in Jim Smith's photographs and in C. R. Ashbee's drawings for architectural work in Chipping Campden.
A bookbinding gathers together and protects the pages of a book. This process was increasingly mechanised in the nineteenth century, and the work at Court Barn demonstrate two responses to this. Katharine Adams gives the Arts and Crafts response, binding individual volumes by hand, using pre-industrial methods and materials. Paul Woodroffe designed 'publishers' bindings', embellishing a book that had been mechanically produced and published in the ordinary way.
Industrialisation transformed the pottery trades in the nineteenth century, especially round Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire. The clearest 'craft' response to this came from the studio-pottery movement of the 1920s onwards. Studio potters must have clay in their hands; designing and making are the same thing; the divisions of industry disappear. The Winchcombe Pottery, set up by Michael Cardew in 1926 and still working under Ray Finch, is of this kind.
The craft furniture of Ernest Gimson and Ernest and Sidney Barnsley, who worked in the south Cotswolds in the early twentieth century, blended the traditions of urban cabinetmaking and country joinery. In the north Cotswolds, Gordon Russell worked in this way when he started producing furniture in 1919 in Broadway. Later he moved towards a modern, machine-oriented style, but he kept the old craft feeling for materials and sound construction.
Progressive designers round 1900 felt that the design traditions of the book trade had got lost. No one looked at a book as a whole any more. Some, like C. R. Ashbee, took the radical step of starting his own hand-press, the Essex House Press, and designing his own typeface. Others, like Paul Woodroffe, worked with commercial publishers, but attended to every detail of a book, type, layout, illustration, binding.
"Industrial design" means the design of objects produced in quantity by industrial processes. The objects may be technologically sophisticated or they may be simple and domestic. The Trust has care of the archive of Robert Welch, silversmith and industrial designer, which includes several thousand items. Welch's work was at the domestic end of industrial design: scissors, weighing scales, light fittings, glasses, candlesticks, tableware, cooking pots, and particularly cutlery.
Jewellery is personal adornment and, though it can be made of any material, it has been strongly associated with gold and silver and with the display of wealth. In the 1890s C. R. Ashbee began to design silver jewellery which he set, deliberately, with cheap materials, enamel and semi-precious stones, substituting colour and beauty for diamonds and the flash of wealth. Other Arts and Crafts designers followed his lead.
Metalwork embraces many different materials and different methods of working them. Wealth, ceremony and display are connected with gold and silver; other metals are more utilitarian. C. R. Ashbee and the Guild of Handicraft worked in gold, silver, copper, brass and wrought iron. The Hart workshop has worked in silver and gold. Robert Welch designed for silver and gold, stainless steel, aluminium and cast iron.
Arts and Crafts people were uneasy about the high status given to to painting since the Renaissance, and about its realism. They liked it to be decorative and flat in effect, like Wentworth Huyshe's copy of a medieval painting. Ironically C. R. Ashbee, a leading figure of the Arts and Crafts, encouraged his daughter, Felicity, who might have become a graphic designer, to train as a painter in the 1930s.
The Guild of Handicraft Trust holds two principal collections by local photographers, Jesse Taylor and Roland Dyer. We have them because they are a valuable historical record of the Campden area in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. But we can also see them as objects in their own right, as part of the debate posed at Court Barn. Where does photography stand in relation to art, craft, technology and design?
There are ways of making images which were traditionally thought less important than painting: drawing, watercolour-painting and print-making, such as etching and lithography. People called them the minor arts. F. L. Griggs created etchings, in which the image is bitten into a copper plate and then printed off under great pressure. Looking at his prints, it is hard to see why they should be thought minor, compared with paintings.
Round 1900 sculptors were seen as fine artists, like painters, working in a studio. But Arts and Crafts people were more interested in sculpture in the streets and on buildings and did not see a great difference between a sculptor and a carver who was essentially a craftsman. Alec Miller trained as a carver, executing other people's designs, but he also worked as a sculptor. He was both artist and craftsman.
Stained-glass work consists of making panels of translucent glass, usually for windows. The medieval style of window, made up of many small pieces of coloured glass, was revived in the nineteenth century and carried through into the twentieth. The Arts and Crafts philosophy in stained glass was that the designer should also be a capable maker. Paul Woodroffe's windows were normally made in a workshop in his garden.
Like ceramics, the textile trades were heavily industrialised in the nineteenth century. And like ceramics, the 'craft' response in textiles did not come with the Arts and Crafts movement around 1900 but in the 1920s, with the revival of hand-weaving. The leading figure in that revival was Ethel Mairet, who first started weaving when she was living in Broad Campden, near Chipping Campden, between 1907 and 1910.