Friday 21 November 2008

Rural Arts and Crafts

This copper tray is the latest addition to the project. It bears the stamp of the Keswick School of Industrial Arts and was made in about 1903. The School was a scion of the Arts and Crafts movement of the second half of the nineteenth century and was dedicated to the promotion of hand-crafted skills and of inspiration drawn from the natural world, as a way of combating the perceived de-humanising effects of industrialisation.

The school was founded by Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley (1851-1920), friend of John Ruskin and Beatrix Potter, campaigner for the protection of the Lake District and co-founder and secretary of the National Trust. It was initially based in parish rooms close to Rawnsley’s church at Crosthwaite, near Keswick. In 1894, the school moved to purpose-built premises and through its apprentice scheme and night classes steadily achieved a national reputation in decorative metalwork.

The school changed and diversified over the years but remained in operation all the way through to 1984. The tray is a reminder from the early twentieth century of a social philosophy set within a rural context. Rawnsley is a key figure in the origins of the conservation movement.

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