Saturday, 13 January 2018

Peasants at the Woman's Exhibition 1900

Ethel Blount exhibited a number of pieces at the 1900 “Woman’s Exhibition” held at Earl’s Court.  This exhibition took part as part of the women's liberation movement.  She is recorded as Mrs Godfrey Blount exhibiting:

"373 Bell Pull in Peasant Tapestry  
374 Panel in Peasant Tapestry
377 Portiere in Peasant Tapestry"

The bell pull, a bell to summon a servant, is an indication of the social class to which the Haslemere Peasant Arts aimed their market.   

The introductory article to the Exhibition by Imre Kiralfy (Woman’s Exhibition, 1900, Earl’s Court, London, S.W.: official fine art, historical and general catalogue, Spottiswoode & Co.) provides an interesting insight to the women’s movement at the time:
“During no period in the world’s history has the progress of woman’s work been so remarkable as in that of the present century.  Although this advance is fully realised, and several attempts have been made to illustrate the progress of woman’s work, there has never been an Exhibition dealing adequately with this great subject.  The advance of woman in the fine arts, in education, in refined and beautiful workmanship, in inventions, her studies and devotion in nursing, and her softening influence, which has penetrated into almost every profession, elevates the nineteenth century in the memorable record of the world’s history.  It is an apparent fact, particularly when we turn to literature, that the work by woman during the last hundred years greatly exceeds anything accomplished by her in all previous times.  UI is, therefore, but fitting and just that woman’s work should be represented in a worthy manner, at the close of this century, by a commemorative Exhibition, the first of its kind ever held. 

…Nothing is more interesting than to trace, through all its vicissitudes, the lengthy course of laws and customs which have slowly raised woman from a condition of abject slavery to a position of social and civil equality…

…The day is passed when Woman, inspired by the necessities of a barbaric or warlike age, could repudiate the weakness of her sex, and contend with man on the field of battle.  Christianity and civilisation have taught her to renounce such ideas, and to assume another and a more glorious duty..

The new mission is symbolised by the name of Florence Nightingale, its originator, its apostle, and its example.  Words can scarcely express the great debt of gratitude we owe to this lady, who, by her generous and heroic labours, has given up her whole life to the promotion of humane work, to the amelioration of the condition of our soldiers, to the improvement of hospital organisation.
….Royalty has had many bright representatives in history, but it remained for this century to give birth to the noblest of all – Victoria, the greatest and most honoured of Sovereigns.  …Her monumental work and mighty influence have not only benefited the one-fourth of the women on earth over whom she rules, but all other nations over which it is spread.  No sooner had she ascended the throne than a complete revolution for the advance in education, science, and culture took place which resulted in the great progress of literature, arts, industries. And legislation which have glorified her reign and made her era unparalleled in history.”
Committee Members,
Woman's Exhibition, 1900, Earl’s Court, London, S.W.:
official fine art, historical and general catalogue, Spottiswoode & Co.

The prominence of duchesses, marchioness, countesses and ladies on the committee list is quite striking.  In the introduction to the Applied Art Section Tessa MacKenzie wrote “Women have at all times worn Tapestries, and here we have an example of a remarkable Tapestry design as well as executed by a woman, i.e. Mrs Frida Hansen, and an example of the work being done in Bushey by Miss Clive Bayley….

It is therefore satisfactory to realise that there is a greater field for woman’s capacity than she has, till of late years, had, and the present Exhibition may justly be looked upon as having opened the eyes of the world to her ability to succeed wherever she competes with men.”

It is disappointing to not see Ethel’s Blount tapestry being highlighted in this article.  However it is useful to have the names of tapestry work by other artists of the time.  Frida Hansen (1855-1931) was a “Norwegian textile artist in the Art Nouveau style…several of her weaving designs considered among the best made in  recent European textile art.” (Wikipedia).  Miss Clive Bayley was from The British and Irish Spinning and Weaving School.  The Art Journal (1899) reported that Bayley’s work “strikes one as a genuine attempt at art of a homely kind.  The most ambitious effort of the children working there is a reproduction in tapestry of one of Fra Angelico’s frescoes.  Failing the possibility of obtaining for the purpose designs by competent artists, this is about as good a source as Miss Bayley could have gone to.”

Frida Hansen tapestry,
Fantasiblomster, portiere, 1903
The National Museum, Oslo
Frida Hansen tapestry,
Melkeveien, 1898
The National Museum, Oslo

Miss Clive Bayley's tapestry loom,
The British and Irish Spinning and Weaving School,
The Art Journal, 1899

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Humanitarian craftswomen sought

The Herald of the Golden Age (August 1902) the following advert:


Mr Godfrey Blount, of Haslemere, Surrey, is going to try an experiment in wood carving on a new style and he would like to hear from any humanitarian craftswomen who are interested in the subject.

The school that he suggests would be conducted on Fruitarian lines.

The more that we can combine practical arts and science and agriculture and industries of every sort with our humane ideals the better it will be for all, but new experiments must be well and carefully thought out.

Those who wish to learn the details of the scheme should direct to the promoters of this Peasant Art Industry."

The Herald of the Golden Age, August 1902

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Our Daily Bread by Godfrey Blount with Pictures

From The Vineyard, March 1913.  The illustrations to this poem have parallels with Blount's other illustrated song, 'The Song of the Sower' shown in a previous post here.

When the seeds are sown
  They quicken all together,
In soothing showers, and sun,
  And wind and wintry weather.

Our Daily Bread by Godfrey Blount

When the green blades sprout
  From their purple prison,
Little song-birds shout,
  “Jesus Christ is risen.”
Our Daily Bread by Godfrey Blount
When kind people walk
  Where the corn is yellow,
Every sturdy stalk
  Stoops to kiss his fellow.

Our Daily Bread by Godfrey Blount
When the harvest heaves
  With many a golden gable,
All shock-headed sheaves
  Praise God who spreads the table. 

Our Daily Bread by Godfrey Blount

                                                            Give us this day our daily bread,
  And daily honest labour,
That every creature may be fed,
  And learn to love its neighbour.
Our Daily Bread by Godfrey Blount

Luther Hooper - the Peasant Relationship?

I have no written record of Luther Hooper explaining the relationship that Hooper had with the Haslemere Peasants movement, however there are two significant indications:

1. Luther Hooper's sample T.254-1970, the composition of which is very similar to that of Godfrey Blount's deer and tree designs.  The sample is described as "Woven sample of white silk with metal strip and stag and fir tree design mounted in a card frame".   This one of many Luther Hooper samples that were given to the museum by Waldo Lanchester (1897-1978) the puppeteer.  This symmetrical design composition is not one I have seen from other artists at the time.  This is a very simple design for Hooper which is unusual.  The deer in Hooper's weaving are all facing away from the tree, but in Blount's designs they are always facing or eating from the tree.

Luther Hooper sample
T.254-1970, Victoria & Albert Museum
Montage of peasant deer and tree designs by the Haslemere Peasant Arts
movement, from my earlier post here

2. "A group of kindred craftsmen".  In his brief online autobiography (online here), Hooper states that he moved to Haslemere to be with "a group of kindred craftsmen".  He writes "In 1901 I returned to London in order to design for and superintend a small tapestry-weaving industry at Bushey, a branch of weaving I had not hitherto studied: here I remained for rather more than a year and then removed to Haslemere, where there was a group of kindred craftsmen, and set up a few looms assisted by my son and three skilled weavers who had been with me at Ipswich."

Luther Hooper sample
T.14-1999, Victoria & Albert Museum

Some years before moving to Haslemere, he is reported as presenting a paper to the Ipswich School of Science and Art (Ipswich Journal, 21 April 1894, p6) titled 'The Relation and Value of Art Education to Local Industries', in his address, Hooper exhibits many similar opinions to the Haslemere Peasants, at a time when these were not being publicly shared as far as I can see.  Similarities include: the quoting of Ruskin, the reverence of artistic objects made for daily use, the importance of local industry, the influence of the art master in training the taste of the student and advocating the formation of a permanent collection of works with which to train students.

“They knew how much Mr Hooper did to interest them by his productions, as exhibited at the Art Gallery in connection with the Society of which he was president, but they, probably, did not know the high position that gentleman occupied in the art word in designing….Mr Luther Hooper then read a most interesting and valuable paper, and after remarking that education in all its different aspects had for the last half century been on of the foremost subjects of enquiry, argument, and experiment, proceeded to give his idea of what should be the method and character of art education, with a view of showing how the advantages offered by such schools as those existing in Ipswich could be made of most value to students and all concerned. 
Luther Hooper 'Oriental Stripe'
T.23:3-1999, Victoria & Albert Museum

"Opportunities should be given to students of seeing fine examples of all kinds of art productions, and it was in this connection that a permanent collection of fine works of art and handicraft became so useful and important.  No town should reckon itself respectable, not to say advanced, which did not provide a beautiful building for a permanent gallery – (applause) – and devote a considerable amount of thought and money to the gradual collection of objects of really fine art. 

"Mr Hooper next treated of art education in its relation to local industry.   He gave some striking passages from Ruskin’s works, which pointed a finely-expressed conclusion that the entire vitality of art depended upon its being either full of truth or full of use – that however pleasant, wonderful, or impressive it might be of itself, it must be of inferior kind and must tend to still deeper inferiority unless it had one of these main objects in view – either to state a true thing or to adorn a serviceable one; and in continuation said we might carry this suggestive enquiry through the whole range of manufacture and should find that the best and most useful things are the most beautiful, and that there is a close connection between good workmanship and high artistic excellence.  It is quite a modern heresy and most pernicious to think, as so many people appear to do, that fine art has only to do with the painting of pictures for the enjoyment of the wealthy collector or merely as pieces of furniture whose only office and object is to adorn an otherwise bare space of flat wall.  The greatest masters of art of all ages have given no small portion of their time and devoted some of their best efforts to the designing and modelling of articles for daily use, and in the palmy days of art he who could produce a really fine piece of pottery, jewellery, armour, furniture, ironwork, or carving, was counted worthy of equal honour with men who could paint the portrait of an emperor or a representation of a saint. 

Luther Hooper 'Small Muir',
T.11:2-1999, Victoria & Albert Museum

"Fine art has, or should have, much to do with local industry, and art education, if properly pursued, will promote and improve the productions and manufactures of a neighbourhood.  There is one branch of local industry in this town which has evidently been considerably influenced by art education.  I think no stranger can walk through Ipswich without noticing, as I did when I first came here, a distinctly high character and degree of excellence attained by some local shop-sign painter or painters.  I knew no town where there is so large a proportion of well-painted, original, and finely-lettered shop facias.  There is a distinct character in these, and I should not be surprised to find that these good things are the result of studies began at the Ipswich School of Art.  There are many other industries that might be improved and benefited in every way by a close relationship to art education.  It is not easy to get good artistic printing done in Ipswich, judging from the specimens one sees on bills and programmes, and yet what a delightful and delighting art that of the printer is, and what a fine opportunity it gives for the use of taste and judgment, both in the selection of type and displaying of it.  The same may be said of the kindred art of bookbinding.  I know of few more satisfactory things to possess than a finely-printed and beautifully and fitly-bound book.  One might easily bring many instances to prove that high artistic quality, wedded, as it invariably must be, to good workmanship, is of a distinct commercial value, and I maintain that the relation of the Art School to the manufacturers should be a most kindly and cordial one, and that it is to be the interest of the latter to promote its effectiveness by every means in their power.  In considering the relation of art to local industry, we must remember that the students are divided into two classes, those who intend to take to art in some form or other as a means of livelihood, and those who commence a course of study because they have an aptitude for art, and a sufficient love of it to enable them to endure a certain amount of drudgery in its pursuit, but who do not intend to make it their chief aim. 

Luther Hooper 'Heartsease'
T.10:5-1999, Victoria & Albert Museum

"…The first class (of course the minority), who intend to live by art in some form or other, will be of value to manufacturers as cultivated workers, in whatever branch of handicraft they take up.  But it is the second class that I should like to point out are, or may be, specially of value to local industry, because, knowing and appreciating what is good, they are disposed to demand a high standard of quality in all they purchase, and having some experience of the Application and pains required to reach any degree of perfection in the fine arts, they can appraise at their proper value articles baring evidence of artistic thought and skill.  I have heard manufacturers say that it is no use producing good things, for the public will not buy them; they must be vulgarised or they will not sell.  But thanks to the influence of the Art School the public are beginning to demand a higher standard of excellence, and well-designed things are beginning to have a value in addition to heir artistic one – I mean the value so important to a manufacturer, a monetary one.  …The art master’s business is to train the eye and hand, to enlarge the ideas, and to improve and guide the taste of the student.  I believe technical training can only be of value when it is obtained by the student while taking part in actual work.  …actually valuable work, artistic or otherwise, can only be learnt in the studio, drawing  office, or workshop.  The last thing I have to say – and  am glad of this opportunity of saying it – is, that as I have advocated the formation of permanent collections of works of fine art and handicraft as important helpers in the training of art students”

Luther Hooper sample,
T.13:1-1999, Victoria & Albert Museum

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