Wednesday 10th September – Wednesday 24th September 2008  -10.00 am – 4.00 pm
Prinknash Abbey Park, Gloucestershire, GL4 8EX

Simon Chorley Art and Antiques, in conjunction with John Beer are pleased to present their 2008 Arts and Crafts exhibition, ‘Influences and Inspiration’. This is a combined loan and selling exhibition which will provide a rare opportunity to purchase furniture and decorative objects from the period together with pieces produced today using the same methods and ideals.

Two-handled vase designed and made by John Williams. c1895.The exhibition is set out as a series of room sets dating from the 1860s right up to the contemporary artists working today. The exhibition opens with a Preview Evening on Tuesday 9th September with Mary Greensted, formerly of Cheltenham Art Gallery & Museum, as the Guest Speaker.

There will be around 100 pieces of furniture for sale spanning the whole period of the exhibition including a set of six ladder back chairs designed by Ernest Gimson in 1905 and an oak two-door ‘Stow’ side cabinet by Gordon Russell, circa 1923. The exhibition will be curated by John Beer and will trace the origins of the Arts & Crafts movement and explore its continuing influence. John Beer is loaning a large group of furnishings, called The Cotswold House which came from a single Cotswold home, collected over the last fifteen years which will create the setting for the other items in the exhibition. Reacting against mass produced, overly flamboyant designs seen at the Great Exhibition of 1851, the Arts & Crafts movement sought to create items of honest, functional design.

The majority of Arts &Crafts designers were architect-trained and this is reflected in the structure and simplicity of the furniture designed by them. This new era was strongly influenced by the Gothic Revival movement and the exhibition includes a writing desk designed by A W N Pugin and made by Holland & Sons circa 1860 which is a good example of the way in which this Gothic influence was implemented on a scale suitable for the domestic interior. In the late 19th and early 20th century Guilds of Handicrafts flourished with silversmiths, glassmakers, woodworkers, bookbinders and embroiderers, to name a few, creating a resurgence in the interest in the craft. Hart’s silversmiths of Chipping Campden, who celebrate their centenary this year, are the last operating remnant of the Guild of Handicrafts established by C R Ashbee in 1888. They will have items on loan to the exhibition with some available for purchase. A wide selection of James Powell (Whitefriars) glass from the 1920s and 1930s will be for sale from Ruskin Decorative Arts in Stow-on-the-Wold, with prices ranging from £100 – £400 as well as
contemporary stained glass inspired by the Arts & Crafts period.

Textiles will be represented by Morris and others to create an appropriate backdrop for Gothic-inspired oak furniture. Contemporary jewellers will have pieces available to buy with designs again influenced by the period and sharing the same principles of quality workmanship.

The Arts & Crafts movement strongly influenced more mainstream producers of the day. Liberty’s of London, Heals and Gordon Russell began producing Arts and Crafts-inspired furniture in greater quantities. The exhibition will have a core group of early 20th century Heals furniture which demonstrates the mainstream acceptance of the movement and its ideals. A particular piece which illustrates the simplicity of design and quality of workmanship is the weathered oak cabinet designed by Ambrose Heal and produced by Heal and Son, circa 1910. Such a piece would not look out of place in a 21st-century interior given the clean lines and clarity of form. Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum have kindly loaned items from their collection including a folding letter rack by Hukin and Heath, 1910, to a design by Christopher Dresser. This is one example of the way in which designers applied their talents to even the most everyday domestic items. Another fascinating piece is a two-handled vase designed and made by John Williams, circa 1895, and an ebonised triple settee with bobbin turnings designed by Ernest Gimson in 1904, and probably made by Gardiner between 1905-1910 and given to the museum by cabinet maker Hugh Birkett shortly before his death.The exhibition will also include a collection of items made or owned by Hugh Birkett, who was a long-standing friend of JohnBeer. This includes a portrait of Hugh as a boy by Bernard Fleetwood Walker, an important Birmingham artist.

Ladder-back chair and “Stow” side cabinetOther contributors to the exhibition, with items for sale and for loan, will be Caroline Pederick (stained glass), Winchcombe Pottery(historic pieces on loan and contemporary pieces for sale), CarolineRichardson (jewellery), Pat Conolly (sculpture), Dennis French(wood crafts), Chris Vickers (wood, metal and leather work) and Paul Reeves (textiles).

Tickets are £10 for the Preview Evening and £3 for daily entrance, available from Simon Chorley Art & Antiques (01452 344499) in advance or on the door, with proceeds going to St. John Ambulance.
Opening hours: Preview Evening Tuesday 9th September, 6—9pm
Weekday & Weekends 10 am—4 pm

Simon Chorley Art & Antiques
Prinknash Abbey Park, Gloucestershire GL4 8EX
Telephone 01452 344499

Source: IONA PR