Hand, Heart & Soul – The Arts and Crafts Movement in Scotland

51RLW5RRIaL._SX385_Hand, Heart and Soul: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Scotland, an exhibition at City Art Centre, Edinburgh (June to September 2007), which travelled to  Millennium Galleries, Sheffield (October to January 2008) and finally to Aberdeen Art Gallery (June to August 2008), looked at Arts and Crafts practice across Scotland between 1880 and 1939. More than 300 objects in a wide variety of media – from jewellery to furniture, ceramics and glass, textiles to architectural designs, and including a number of items from Glasgow School of Art’s archives and collections – were assembled from public and private collections. Some items were familiar, many others (and their designers) were new discoveries. Arranged through six thematic sections, the show presented fascinating facets of the movement from the design or decoration of buildings to studio crafts. Together they provided fresh insight into life and identity a century ago.

The story of the Arts and Crafts movement in Scotland is one of friendships, families and networks of art workers, architects and designer-craftsmen and women, all committed to the restoration of beauty to everyday life in the industrial age. At heart it was a middle-class city movement with its base in art schools and shared exhibitions. Arts and Crafts was an ideology which embraced modernity and progress but also the romance of the past. Part of the British movement, Scottish Arts and Crafts reflected and encouraged national dreams.

The exhibition curator, Dr Elizabeth Cumming, has kindly provided the exhibition guide and texts of the exhibit labels. These are now available on The Arts and Crafts Movement in Surrey website. The book Hand, Heart and Soul: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Scotland by Elizabeth Cumming has been recently reissued and is available to purchase from  Amazon.

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Arts and Crafts at the National Archives

'Poppyland' furniture fabric registered by Liberty, February 1904 (BT 50/536/427344). Image courtesy National Archives

‘Poppyland’ furniture fabric registered by Liberty, February 1904 (BT 50/536/427344). Image courtesy National Archives

The Arts and Crafts style, beginning with William Morris and his contemporaries in the mid 19th Century, has endured for over 150 years. In fact just a few days ago the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow was named as the winner of the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2013, highlighting how much interest there still is in the Arts and Crafts movement and its characteristic style. 

'Almond Blossom and Swallow' wallpaper sample designed by Walter Crane, registered by Jeffrey & Co, July 1878 (BT 43/102/323809). Image courtesy National Archives

‘Almond Blossom and Swallow’ wallpaper sample designed by Walter Crane, registered by Jeffrey & Co, July 1878 (BT 43/102/323809). Image courtesy National Archives

As such the National Archives have written a fascinating blog post about the Arts and Crafts design highlights in their own collection. e hold records of designs registered for copyright with the Board of Trade and successor departments between 1839 and 1991, including samples and original designs by Morris & Co, as well as many registrations of designs by Liberty. Records from 1842 to 1883 are in BT 43(representations – drawings, paintings, photographs or samples of the design) and BT 44 (registers). These series have been catalogued by item, and are searchable online by registered design number, proprietor, date, address and (sometimes) description of object. See our online guide for more information about registered designs. These records form an absolutely outstanding resource for artists and designers. 

See the National Archives blog for more information. The annual Liberty Arts and Crafts Exhibition is also currently underway. 

'Anemone' furniture fabric design registered by Morris & Co, February 1876 (BT 43/372/298226). Image courtesy National Archives

‘Anemone’ furniture fabric design registered by Morris & Co, February 1876 (BT 43/372/298226). Image courtesy National Archives