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Arts & Crafts Movement


The fourth of our extended articles added to our History Section is on The Arts & Crafts Movement - which actually started as more of a reform movement in response to the changes in society caused by the Industrial Revolution. Whilst the Aesthetics were all for good quality designs that were suited to mechanised production methods - the Arts & Crafts followers advocated a return to the era of items handcrafted by artisans. They felt that mankind had become subservient to machines rather than machines serving our needs. Central to the Arts & Crafts movement was that the artisan should be involved with every stage of the production of items.

Pugin and Ruskin, both influential critics of industrialisation, had an idealised view of the medieval craftsman - seeing the medieval era as an idyllic period of piety and high moral standards. Both looked back to the gothic and medieval eras for inspiration - providing a characteristic for the Arts & Crafts style that persists today.

Whilst the wider popularity of the Arts & Crafts style declined in the UK after the 1920s, pockets remained - notably the Keswick and Newlyn Schools. The movement lasted longest in the US where arguably its influences are still seen today. The Arts & Crafts style however remained popular with collectors and is currently enjoying a resurgence of interest.

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