The Flowering of the Arts & Crafts in the Lake District

13 February - 23 April 2006

This exhibition includes some of the best work produced by key makers of the Arts and Crafts movement working in the Lake District at the time when Blackwell was built. The Arts and Crafts in the Lakes had its own distinct identity, inspired by its unique landscape and the presence of some notable personalities, including John Ruskin who made his home in Coniston in 1872.

Objects have been carefully selected to illustrate the quality and diversity of work produced in Lakeland workshops, and there will be profiles of some of the people who brought the movement to life. They include Canon and Edith Rawnsley, who founded the Keswick School of Industrial Arts and were also involved in the creation of the National Trust. In addition, there will be information on the work of Ruskin’s former secretary, W.G. Collingwood, whose research into the Lake’s rich Norse and early Christian heritage was to have an influence on the people creating decorative carving and metalwork in the area. Finally, it will look at the work of John Ruskin, whose practical efforts to revive the failing textile cottage industries in the Lakes begins the exhibition. Watercolours by Ruskin and his followers will illustrate the passion for nature that inspired local craftsmen and women to look directly at their surroundings for inspiration.

An important aspect of the exhibition will be metalwork by the Keswick School of Industrial Arts, a successful craft school and workshop whose richly decorated répoussé copper and brass work found customers throughout Britain, and is increasingly sought after today. There will be rarely seen pieces as well as designs and drawings from the School’s archive, which is privately owned.

Furnishings from the Simpsons of Kendal, an important workshop, favoured by Voysey and Baillie Scott will also be displayed. The Simpsons were commissioned by Baillie Scott to provide much of the elaborate carving at Blackwell. Like the Keswick School, the Simpsons often included rich decoration and pattern in their work. The exhibition will show some of their finest pieces, examining the varied sources and inspiration for their decorative work with the help of contemporary watercolours, drawings and publications. A furnished room will give visitors a rare chance to see how these different craft disciplines worked together to create a Lakeland Arts and Crafts interior of 1900.

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