Cheltenham's Arts and Crafts Movement collection
The collection at Cheltenham includes furniture, pottery, silver, metalwork, jewellery, plasterwork, leatherwork, private press books, textiles and embroideries as well as important archives.
The Cotswolds were an important centre for the Arts and Crafts Movement so the collection has a strong local base. From the 1920s close links were forged between the local designers, artists and makers and Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum by the then librarian-curator, Daniel Herdman.
Exhibitions of work were held regularly in Cheltenham, Painswick and Chipping Campden. In 1951 a major exhibition of Cotswold Craftsmanship was organised by the art gallery and museum as part of the Festival of Britain.
Arts and Crafts work was acquired by the Art Gallery and Museum from the 1930s. Featured designers include Ernest Gimson and Sidney and Ernest Barnsley, and the husband and wife team, Alfred and Louise Powell, at Sapperton and other villages round Cirencester and, in the north Cotswolds, C R Ashbee and the Guild of Handicraft at Chipping Campden and Gordon Russell in Broadway. There is also a collection of studio pottery based round the work of Michael Cardew and Ray Finch at the Winchcombe Pottery in Gloucestershire.
In 1940 Herdman was able to collect a major archive of Ernest Gimson’s work – plans, drawings. photographs and sketchbooks – from the sale of his widow’s effects. Herdman discovered that the plans were due to be thrown on the bonfire, but managed to rescue them. They formed the basis of the art gallery and museum’s Arts and Crafts archive.
Since the 1970s the collection has been developed to give a national overview including pieces by William Morris, CFA Voysey, M H Baillie Scott, A Romney Green, Eric Gill and Archibald Knox. Also represented are Arts and Crafts designs aimed at the popular market by Liberty’s, Heal and Son and other manufacturers. 1990 we also acquired the major private press library of Emery Walker.
The Arts and Crafts Movement had a tremendous influence on the teaching of art, craft and design throughout the 20th century which survives into the 21st. We also continue to acquire contemporary craft and commission pieces for the galleries to this day, actively continuing the tradition begun by Daniel Herdman.
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