Arts & Crafts – The Industrial Revolution

Today we have received another lecture relating to the industrial revolution in order to further prepare us for the essay latter on in the year. This lecture was centred around the old and still living movement known simply as “Arts & Crafts” movement.

Arts & Crafts movement was formed in the 1880’s and 1910’s and was created by the union of many designers and craftsmen within Europe who saw the industrial revolution as the ruining/destruction of traditional skills and craftsmanship for all ranges of products. However, this did not necessarily mean they hated machine production as by the quote by William Morris, an important member of this movement: “We do not reject the machine, we welcome it. But we would desire to see it mastered”.

The movements goal was to see the improvement and enjoyment with the works of craftsmen and to be able to improve the economy by using their skills and more privileged lives to help their local areas and make not just themselves happen with their environment, but also the people around them.

William Morris was a very prominent person within our lecture and discussion namely due to his very interesting story of how he discovered the idea of arts and crafts and became the inspiration of the movement. William Morris was originally one of the few (creative) lucky men to be born into wealth and used that wealth to his simple hobbies as a poet, artist and designer. One day when Morris was preparing a brand new house to live in (now known formally as the “Red House”, Morris decided that rather than building and furnishing his one using the cheaper factor-made materials and items, he decided to work together alongside his close friend Philip Webb to design and create everything from scratch. Whether it was before or after this process I am unsure, however, Morris knew that one of the biggest problems of his time was the idea of pleasure from work, something which had been lost within the dangerous and depressing walls of factories.

Morris also happened to be a very dedicated disciple of another member of another member of the movement, that man being John Ruskin, founder and leader of the “Guild of St. George”, another movement centred the idea of old medieval guilds where groups of people within a certain trade could be offered job security and pride in their work. The creation of this guild was mostly enforced by Ruskin’s own impression of true beauty, and that by improving the quality of work, he could also improve the world around him into becoming more beautiful.


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