The Arts & Crafts Story

The Arts & Crafts Movement was the most important and influential art movement to emerge from England in the last 250 years.

Young London-based architects were at the forefront of the Movement. They founded the Art Workers’ Guild in 1884 to break down barriers between architects, artists, designers and makers. The term ‘Arts and Crafts’ was first used at the suggestion of the bookbinder T J Cobden-Sanderson for its offshoot, the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, set up in 1888. It involved designers and makers, but also manufacturers.

In simplest terms the Arts & Crafts Movement was an art movement based on clean lines and functional forms, truth to materials and the use of nature as the source for all pattern. It was a reaction against the Victorian fashion for inventive sham and over-elaborate design.

It is very difficult to define as a style unlike, for example, Art Nouveau or Art Deco.

William Morris was the father figure of the Arts & Crafts Movement and developed its three guiding principles: honest and functional design, the use of natural forms in pattern, and the importance of creative, manual work.

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At the start of the 19th century, the hosiery trade provided most of the employment in Leicester. The collapse of framework knitting after 1820 was a disaster but the second half of the century saw an upturn in the city’s fortunes.

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Like other towns and cities, Leicester held its own Art and Crafts exhibitions. The 1904 exhibition held between July and September at the Museum and Art Gallery included work by national figures and local makers.

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