WHAT IS THE ARTS AND CRAFTS MOVEMENT

AND WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

When you first hear the words “Arts and Crafts Movement” it might conjure up thoughts of glue, paper, cheap glitter, and foam letters. However, this movement had a deep impact on the development of art history which can still be seen even today. And no, it’s not the type of arts and craft you would think. The Arts and Craft Movement began after the Industrial Revolution had gained momentum, and in its strength, art began to decline in quality due to mass production. A few artists, including William Morris, decided to do something about that, and started a movement based around returning the hand-crafted touch to art, while still trying to take advantage of the new technology available to them. They were largely inspired by nature and worked in a variety of mediums, from illuminated manuscripts to textiles to ceramic tiles.

Victoria & Albert Museum Gift Shop
Victoria & Albert Museum Gift Shop

William Morris inspired gift shop items

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Victoria & Albert Museum Gift Shop
Victoria & Albert Museum Gift Shop

William Morris inspired gift shop items

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Victoria & Albert Museum Gift Shop
Victoria & Albert Museum Gift Shop

William Morris inspired gift shop items

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Victoria & Albert Museum Gift Shop
Victoria & Albert Museum Gift Shop

William Morris inspired gift shop items

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I was curious to consider if we, as a society, are in for a renewal of the Arts and Crafts movement. Is art today experiencing the same decline because of digitalization as William Morris witnessed in the Industrialization period? Or will we simply embrace the new digital world? London was an excellent place to explore this because it has a beautiful overlap of old history from much before the industrialization, all the way up to new history, even some that we witnessed in the making. 

 

As I experienced London over our 8-day trip, I realized my initial guess that we would be in for a new Arts and Crafts movement might have been too close minded. I realized to our modern world, things like printing presses are old fashion and have a hand-made touch, while the Industrial Revolution was based around machines like the printing press. Even if we did experience a return to hand crafted art, it would not be a movement that would last seeing as we live in an extremely fast paced world now which simply doesn’t have the time that handmade art requires and deserves.

Nevertheless, I did realize that although the original Arts and Craft Movement happened long ago, its effects are still evident today. And at its core, it still offers artists a chance to reflect before they create. Maybe a new Arts and Crafts Movement isn’t due, or maybe it could still happen, but the value of the original Arts and Crafts Movement is still relevant and beneficial to artists and designers today.

LONDON INSPIRED DESIGNS

My project centers on the core value of the Arts and Crafts Movement, which is not losing sight of the attention to detail, the skill, and the handmade touch which all art originally had. Even in our digital world, most artist and designs come from humble origins with a pencil, paper, and a passion which they turned into a career. Remembering to keep that personal touch when creating in the digital space can help make an impact. I decided the best way to do this was through practice led research which means learning about Arts and Crafts designs by trying to create Arts and Crafts patterns, illustrations, and drawings.

 

I was inspired to do both digital and handmade art based off the photos I took while in London of nature and flowers. I took these photos, shown below on the left, of flowers as I experienced London with the specific purpose in mind to create art with them that was inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement. After the trip, I took my photos and made handmade drawings, digital illustrations, and collages, which are seen below on the left.

Flower in London
Flower in London

Purple flowers at Eltham Palace

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Flower in London
Flower in London

White flowers at Eltham Palace

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Flower in London
Flower in London

Flowers at the Flower Market

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Flower in London
Flower in London

Purple flowers at Eltham Palace

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FLOWERS IN LONDON

William Morris' Pattern Design
William Morris' Pattern Design

Original Artwork by William Morris used for Inspiration

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Blue and Orange Pattern
Blue and Orange Pattern

Arts and Crafts Movement inspired design

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Digital Illustration
Digital Illustration

Arts and Crafts Movement inspired design

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William Morris' Pattern Design
William Morris' Pattern Design

Original Artwork by William Morris used for Inspiration

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ARTWORK INSPIRED BY LONDON

Morris, William. “Vintage Textile Pattern Design For Avon Chintz by William Morris.” Pixels, pixels.com/featured/vintage-textile-pattern-design-for-avon-chintz-william-morris.html.

 

Tate. “Makers on Makers: Sahara Dalley of PapaTotoro on The Cray by William Morris.” Tate, Nov. 2012, www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/blogs/makers-on-makers-sahara-dalley-papatotoro-on-cray-william-morris.

 

“Tiles Based on William Morris Willow Bough Textile Patterns.” William Morris, William De Morgan, Morris & Co.: Tile in the English Arts and Crafts Tradition,  \williammorristile.com/textiles/willow_bough.html.

 

V&A. “V&A · William Morris.” Victoria and Albert Museum, www.vam.ac.uk/collections/william-morris.