The Arts And Crafts Movement

'Whoot' wallpaper designed by C. F. A. Voysey ca. 1897

The Winsford’s architect and designer, Charles Francis Annesley Voysey, is celebrated as an important figure of the Arts and Crafts movement. Not just an architect, Voysey also designed fabrics, wallpaper, tiles, ceramics, furniture and metalwork. His style combined simplicity with sophistication.

Origins of the Movement

But what was the Arts and Craft movement? Why and how did it start?

The quick answer is protest, politics, and idealism. It’s easy to see how concern for the condition and exploitation of the working poor and the perceived lowering of quality associated with mass production led to rejection of industrialisation by key figures such as A.W.N. Pugin and John Ruskin. Their views stimulated a movement that celebrated craftsmanship in all its forms and which was to spread its influence to Europe and to North America.

The Arts and Crafts movement had as its inspiration

the image of a medieval craftsman working out with his hands the free impulses of his creative mind. [1]

No wonder then that the movement fostered a return to traditional craftsmanship where good design was realised in simple forms and where the designer focused on all elements of a building from its architecture to every component of its interior fittings and decoration. Individual craftsmen designed what they then made. It was a point of honour with Arts and Crafts movement artists to respect the materials they worked with.[1]

C.F.A. Voysey 1857-1941

British Architects

Beginning in the 1860s, the Arts & Craft movement was led by the artist and writer William Morris(1834–1896) and Charles Voysey (1857–1941). Many of those who became involved trained as architects and, as did Voysey, extended their work into the decorative arts – metal craft, ceramics, glass, textiles and furniture, though Voysey was not a craftsman in any of the materials for which he designed. The styles are gloriously simple, with fabric designs borrowing heavily from nature and from the Gothic. Some work –silver work, for instance, demonstrated huge technical skill. Furniture could be well made or display evident home-made touches. This was done to reinforce that these objects were not machine made.

Artists Associations

The Arts and Crafts movement stimulated the start of Higher Education in Art, with the opening of the Municipal School of Art in Birmingham in 1885 – it later became the leading centre for the Arts and Crafts Movement. The movement chiefly made progress through special-interest associations – imitating the medieval craft guilds. A hundred and thirty Arts and Crafts organizations were formed in Britain, most of them between 1895 and 1905.[2] These encouraged interest in the movement and the take-up of crafts. The movement stayed true to its concern for the working man. The Guild and School of Handicrafts founded by C.R. Ashbee in 1888, was a craft co-operative intended to give working men the satisfactions of craftsmanship through its production as well as training apprentices. Initially based in the East End of London, the Guild moved to Chipping Campden in the Cotswolds where it was less successful. Though it folded 6 years after this move, its permanent legacy is the continuation of the craft traditions in the area.

Court Barn Museum is a celebration of the lives and skills of the craftspeople who have worked in and around the North Cotswolds since the time of the Arts and Crafts period.

1. The Design Museum – Arts and Crafts Movement

2. Wikipedia – Arts and Crafts Movement