Arts & Crafts Appeal
The interest in the Arts and Crafts Movement never seems to wane as witnessed by the current International Arts & Crafts Exhibition at the V & A. The founding members of the Movement were great exponents of, and worked very closely with, the Royal School of Art Needlework, as it was then called, producing many designs that were worked at our Exhibition Road premises. Individuals such as William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, Selwyn Image, Arthur Mackmurdo, Alexander Fisher and Walter Crane were all involved in one way or another.
Here at Hampton Court, the RSN’s archives are bursting with hidden treasures and we have started to catalogue them now that we have Dr Lynn Hulse on board as our Archivist. She has discovered many items that have an Arts and Crafts connection and is very keen for us to exhibit these as many have never been seen by the public whilst others remain unknown even to Arts and Crafts experts.
The Huntington Library & Art Collection in California has recently announced its excitement at having purchased the ‘ebonized Demi-Lune Cabinet’ designed by Walter Crane in about 1875. This too was exhibited at Philadelphia and has two embroidered panels worked at the RSN. According to the Huntington this is ‘one of the pieces known to have influenced the development of the art needlework movement in the US.’ In fact, Candace Wheeler was so inspired by all of the RSN embroidery at Philadelphia that she went on to found the New York Society of Decorative Art, which was managed for a time by a member of staff from the RSN. Thanks again to Dr Hulse, we have been able to find the original paintings for the cabinet embroideries. This was a most exciting find and the Huntington Library & Art Collection is extremely keen to see them. Unfortunately - and this is where you come in - most of these items require conservation work before they can even be prepared and framed for exhibition purposes.
We are asking for your help. Without it these beautiful and important items will simply remain in our cupboards, disintegrate and be lost forever. The Arts and Crafts Movement was such a pivotal point in the history of needlework and we are very fortunate to own these items which are of such significant value. We also believe that it is our responsibility to let others benefit from them and not keep them hidden away in our archives.
It is not possible at this stage to put a final figure to the work necessary as we are still finding and researching pieces but we believe that it will be in the order of £25,000. This would include conservation, framing and storage, along with the time involved in organising at least two exhibitions that we are almost certain will come to immediate fruition. These items will remain part of a Walter Crane collection which could be exhibited as a whole or offered individually to augment other exhibitions. Either way, this would be a new and exciting step forward for the RSN, enabling us to take embroidery into the world of art, just as Walter Crane did all those years ago.
Donations may be sent to the RSN or made by MasterCard or Visa credit cards over the phone. Please remember to Gift Aid your donation wherever possible. Please click here to download our donation form.