Feature: Jack Foley
International Arts and Crafts, Victoria and Albert Museum,
London, March 17 - July 24, 2005 l Buy
THE Victoria &Albert Museum’s major spring exhibition,
International Arts and Crafts, takes place from March 17 to July
24 and promises to be the most comprehensive ever UK exhibition
on the movement and the first to look at it from a truly international
It will show how Arts and Crafts originated in Britain in the
1880s and became the first British design movement to have widespread
influence internationally as the ideas spread to America, Europe,
Scandinavia, and Japan.
On display will be more than 300 of the best Arts and Crafts
objects from simple folk craft to sophisticated objects made for
Among the highlights will be four specially created room sets
emphasising the importance of the Arts and Crafts home and interior.
There will be two British sets (one urban and one rural), one
American ‘Craftsman’ room and one Japanese ‘model
room’ dating from 1928, recreated through recently rediscovered
More than 300 of the best Arts & Crafts objects will be on
display including textiles, stained glass, furniture, ceramics,
metalwork, jewellery, books, architecture, photography, paintings
Highlights include objects by influential British designers such
as Voysey, Mackintosh, Ashbee, Morris, Baillie Scott and De Morgan;
a group of Russian objects that have not been exhibited abroad
before; four metres wide stained glass doors by Californian designers,
Greene and Greene; and Japanese objects by Bernard Leach and Hamada
The objects have been drawn from private and public collections
all over the world with around a third coming from the V&A’s
Arts and Crafts was both a movement and a style, a reaction to
the Industrial Revolution and its machine dominated production.
Led by John Ruskin and William Morris, the movement promoted
the ideals of craftsmanship, individualism, and the integration
of art into every day life.
The movement challenged the hierarchy of the arts to raise the
status of craftsmen.
It also advocated social reform through improved workshop conditions,
a return to workshop production and a simpler way of life.
The exhibition will show that while handicraft and the simple,
country life was the ideal, the movement was also sophisticated,
intellectual and urban.
It had a strong commercial basis and a desire to influence industrial
design and manufacture.
The exhibition will explore the influence of Arts and Crafts
throughout the decorative arts across all spectrums of society
from furniture made for country cottages to highly crafted silver,
glass, textiles and fine art made for aristocratic houses.
Arts and Crafts changed the way we think about design and the
value we place on the way things are made today. It laid the foundations
for new approaches internationally to design and lifestyles in
the twentieth century through new attitudes to work, design and
The exhibition looks at the different ways the Arts and Crafts
ideas were interpreted from country to country.
The movement flourished in Britain in the 1880s. It then spread
internationally to America from 1890 to 1916 and continental Europe
and Scandinavia from 1880 to 1914, before its final manifestation
as the Mingei (Folk Craft) movement in Japan between 1926 and
In America, the movement flourished in the mid-West, upstate
New York, Boston and California.
In Scandinavia, Austria, Russia and Germany, the Arts and Crafts
ideology led to a revival of nationalism as craftsmen returned
to indigenous materials and native traditions.
Each section of the exhibition, which will be organised geographically,
will explore the distinctive characteristics of the Arts and Crafts
movement as it developed in countries or regions from England
International Arts and Crafts follows the V&A’s highly
successful 'style' exhibitions on William Morris in 1996, Art
Nouveau in 2000 and Art Deco in 2003.
The V&A’s Modernism exhibition will open in Spring
After London, the exhibition will travel to the Indianapolis
Museum of Art from September 27, 2005 to January 22, 2006 and
the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (de Young) from March 18
to June 18, 2006.
V&A South Kensington
London SW7 2RL
0207 942 2000.
Opening times: 10am to 5.45pm daily (10am to 10pm Wednesdays
and the last Friday of the