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Arts & Crafts: from Gothic Reform to 1950s.

by dorelia evans June 29, 2017


This month the Millinery Works are hosting a selling exhibition of furniture, textiles and other decorative arts from the period 1850 - 1950. The exhibition will run from 13th June - 2nd July 2017. Click here for a full catalogue of works included in the exhibition. 


At the turn of the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution brought with it a new market of objects which could be designed and put together repetitively in hive-like factories all over the United Kingdom. This worked in economic favour over the old fashioned tailors and carpenters - putting many out of business - and led to a dip in the prices of household necessities; something we are perhaps even more aware of today, in the age of IKEA, and factory flat packs.



This summers show at the Millinery Works traces the beginning and development of the Arts & Crafts movement of the period post-Industrial Revolution - from the age of Gothic Reform through to the 1950s. This period represents a dynamic shift in the world of craft, where makers were able to experiment with design; shifting the emphasis of the creation of objects and textile design towards innovation and experimentation over pure pragmatism. 

The philosophy of the Gothic Reform movement began in the Guilds and workshops, where creatives met and began designing ambitious pieces. The workers in the Guilds welded artistic licence with the pragmatic need for furniture and textiles to push the design process further, crafting each piece to some unique flourish.  We can see this similarities between this aesthetic, and that of A W Pugin, William Morris and their contemporaries, included in this exhibition:  


1860 - 1900 - Aesthetic & William Morris.

1890- 1915, Liberty


Once we hit the 1900s, the design ethos turns in Guilds such as Heals &co in an 'out with the old, in with the new'-like fashion; i.e. flowery flourishes were out, geometric patterns and minimalism were in. The Cotswold school gained momentum in this period, stripping back the aesthetic of the Gothic Reform, in a way that emphasises the material and purpose of the designs:


1900-1930, Cotswold 


1895-1915, Heals & Co.

Running in tune with other movements in the Art world at the time, the minimalist designs of the Cotswold School began to overlap and engage with a more flamboyant teetering in France - the illustrative movements of Art Deco. Left-overs from this period can famously be found around Paris, in the copper-green metal that rise from the pavement in a vine-like fashion to arch the descending staircases to the Metro stations. 


 1920- 1935 Art Deco.

As we reach the 1950s, a more Modernist aesthetic and ideology pronounces itself. The geometries and pulled back nature of the earlier Cotwold designs of the 1900s is still notably there, but the works are unapologetic in how they experiment with style and form:


1950s, Modernist. 

This exhibition allows its visitors to explore the stylistic relationships between the subsets of the Arts & Crafts sphere, whilst revealing how the ideas and methods of production evolved over time through the physicality of the pieces. As the show enters its final week, indulge in a timeline of original designs before they each go their separate ways.




This is a selling exhibition containing the pieces pictured below and more. Please feel free to contact us if you would like any further information on the works.  


dorelia evans
dorelia evans


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