The Arts and Crafts movement was a reaction to the industrialisation and mass production of the 19th century. It aimed to restore the value and beauty of handmade goods, and to promote social and economic reform. The movement influenced many aspects of art and design, such as architecture, furniture, textiles, pottery, metalwork, jewellery, and bookbinding. Some of the main characteristics of the Arts and Crafts style are:
- The use of natural materials, such as wood, stone, clay, metal, and wool.
- The emphasis on craftsmanship, quality, and durability.
- The preference for simple, functional, and honest forms, often inspired by medieval, folk, or oriental motifs.
- The integration of art and craft, and the collaboration of artists and artisans.
- The respect for the individual creativity and skill of the maker.
The Arts and Crafts movement had a significant impact on the world of art and design, and its influence can still be seen today. Some of the key ways in which the movement impacted the world include:
- Revival of traditional techniques: The movement helped to revive traditional techniques of craftsmanship, such as weaving, pottery, and woodworking.
- Development of new styles: The movement inspired the development of new styles and movements, such as Art Nouveau, Modernism, Bauhaus, and Art Deco.
- Education and social reform: The movement advocated for the improvement of education and working conditions for artists and craftsmen, and for the recognition of their contribution to society.
- Preservation and conservation: The movement fostered a sense of appreciation and care for the natural and cultural heritage, and encouraged the preservation and conservation of historic buildings and crafts.
The Arts and Crafts movement was also a revolution in the decorative and fine arts that focused on clean, simple lines in furniture and other home decor items. It was also a social and political movement that challenged the status quo and sought to create a more humane and harmonious world.
The arts and crafts movement in Sussex
The Arts and Crafts movement had a strong influence in Sussex, England, where many artists and craftsmen settled and formed communities. Some of the notable examples are:
- The Guild of St Joseph and St Dominic, based at Ditchling, was an experiment of artists living and working together in community under the leadership of its founders: Eric Gill, Hilary Pepler and Desmond Chute.
- William Morris named one of his most famous designs the Sussex chair, a simple and sturdy wooden chair with a rush seat.
- Philip Webb designed Standen, near East Grinstead, one of this country’s outstanding Art and Crafts homes, with interiors decorated by Morris & Co.
- Edwin Lutyens was also active in Sussex, designing houses such as Little Thakeham and gardens such as Great Dixter.
- Ralph Vaughan Williams and John Ireland were composers who shared the Arts and Crafts’ love of the countryside and folk traditions, and collected many of their tunes from the fields around Horsham and Shipley.
You can learn more about the Arts and Crafts movement and its influence in Sussex by visiting some of the places mentioned above.
If you are influenced by the arts and crafts movement, or know of examples of their influence, then please let us know.