Like many people we are continually inspired by the arts and craft movement and all things arts and craft. Talented individuals across the country, past and present, who influence our surroundings and shape the aesthetics of our society. In honour of this we’ve pulled together a list of our favourite galleries and museums that celebrate a wide range of art and crafts. From pottery to illustration, interior design to print and of course, a key influencer of the arts and crafts movement; William Morris.
Nestled at the foot of the South Downs, on the outskirts of Brighton, the Ditchling Museum holds an internationally important collection of work by the artists and craftspeople who were drawn to the village. This intriguing group of artefacts include items from the painter David Jones, the printer Hilary Pepler, the weaver Ethel Mairet, the sculptor, wood engraver, type-designer and letter-cutter Eric Gill and the calligrapher Edward Johnston (pictured below) who was responsible for the famous Johnston typeface used for London Underground.
Ditchling is a beautiful village to visit at any time of year, with stunning local scenery and two fantastic village pubs. Tie in a mooch around the village with a visit to the museum and it’ll make a trip beyond the sunny shores of Brighton well worthwhile. Currently showcasing 100 years of Edward Johnson’s typeface for the London Underground and even more happening throughout the rest of the year, there’s plenty to captivate a crafty mind.
A phenomenal force and pioneer of the arts and crafts movement, William Morris had a prolific creative life as a writer, designer and social campaigner. The William Morris Gallery holds the most comprehensive collection of objects relating to all aspects of Morris’s life and work, giving you a beautiful overview of the arts and crafts movement and the part he had to play in it.
The William Morris Gallery is bringing the arts and crafts movement into the 21st century this summer with an ambitious interactive exhibition led by British ceramic artist Clare Twomey. Clare plans to turn the gallery into a live craft studio, allowing the general public to work as apprentices on a vast tile panel. You can get involved prior to the event by supporting the project via their crowd-funding page or finding out more on our blog post ‘The Art & Crafts Movement Lives On…Become a Part of it‘.
If you’re captivated by the Great British Throw Down or if you’re just an admirer of handmade ceramics and the talented potters that make them, a trip to the centre of the UK’s ceramic industry, Stoke, is a must. Gladstone Pottery Museum is located in a part of a Victorian pottery factory and offers a fascinating insight into the history of Stoke-on-Trent, famous the world over for the quality of its pottery.
Gladstone was not a famous pottery, however it was typical of hundreds of similar factories in the area making everyday ceramic items for the mass market. You can experience what conditions were like for the men, women and children who worked at the centre of the world’s pottery industry. There are daily demonstrations and you can even get involved yourself with a range of workshops aimed at adult visitors who want to find out more about ceramic skills.
Situated in the heart of London’s Kings Cross, the House of Illustration is a fascinating insight into the history of illustration. The gallery captures artwork for all sorts of publications and forms including advertisements, graphic novels, political cartoons, fashion design, scientific drawings and much more. Founded by Sir Quentin Blake it’s the only public gallery devoted purely to the art of illustration. The gallery promotes new talent, while showcasing illustration’s part in historical and educational documentation.
You can also join talks and lectures at the museum on a regular basis, just keep an eye on their FaceBook feed for up and coming events.
If you’re ever in Dublin and can bear to drag yourself away from the wonderful Guinness, take a moment to visit the National Print Museum. It’s a small but perfectly formed celebration and preservation of the print process, including printing presses, blocks and other print paraphernalia. If you’re a lover of typography and fonts this is a great little space to browse around.
It’s very interactive, the majority of the stunning pieces of machinery are still in full working order. The staff know their stuff and are happy to talk you through the printing craft and how it’s evolved over time.
If you’re anywhere near the Cotswolds, stop off at Cheltenham and pay a visit to their fantastic Wilson Museum. Exhibiting everything from key arts and crafts pieces to handcrafted pottery from Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry. There’s a broad display of art and crafts history as well as an interpretation of its presence in modern society. Take a look at their current exhibition ‘Hidden Agenda; Socially Conscious Craft’ for an insight into their approach.
The Geffrye Museum – London
If you want to understand the changes that the arts and crafts period brought to interior design, the Geffrye Museum is the perfect place to visit and learn about its aesthetic impact in the home. Eleven period rooms are presented chronologically, starting in 1600 and concluding at the end of the 20th century, giving you a visual overview of how interiors have evolved through the ages. A short introduction illustrates a typical town house of the time, the type of furniture and furnishings and the main changes in the style of English homes. If you’re planning a visit before September, they currently have a fantastic exhibition documenting the way in which servants’ work formed the backbone of domestic life, giving a glimpse into a world often overlooked by historians.
If there are any museums near you, that have inspired the inner craftsman or woman in you, tell us all about them and send a link.