Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Arts and Crafts Weekend 7-9th July 2017, Haslemere!!!

I'm excited to report that the Haslemere Educational Museum is running a 'Celebration of the Arts and Crafts Movement' on the weekend beginning the 7th July.  There is a packed programme of events, that you can see on the leaflet here.

  • Friday 7th July, 7pm - An Evening Talk by Eric Knowles, a leading authority in Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Decorative Arts.  A well-known face in he world of antiques, having graced the BBC's Antiques Roadshow programme for over 20 years
  • Saturday Morning Lectures at the Museum:
    • 9.30am - The Rustic Renaissance, Lindsay Moreton, Collections Manager, Haslemere Educational Museum.  An introduction to the diverse European Arts Collection at the Museum and the craftspeople who inspired the local Arts and Crafts Movement
    • 10.15am - Craft Routes to Ditchling, Donna Steele, Curator Ditching Museum of Art + Craft.  Discussing the appeal of the rural idyll to these modernist artists and craftspeople.
    • 11.15am - The Beauty and Romance of Arts and Crafts Gardens, Dr Sarah Rutherford, Garden Historian.  
    • 12.00 - F.W. Troup - A Scotsman in Surrey, Professor Neil Jackson RIBA FSA, Charless Reilly Professor of Architecture.  About Troup's work whether casting beadwork or designing houses for Joseph King in Haslemere
  • Haslemere ' Peasant Arts' Trail, 2.30pm - with me! - Wander around the outside of the Arts and Crafts industry buildings and houses of Haslemere with the local expert.  
  • Arts and Crafts Dinner at St Christopher's Church, 7pm.  An evening at St Christopher's Church with an informed tour of this stunning example of an Arts and Crafts building followed by music and dinner by candlelight.
  • Sunday morning- Visit to Munstead Wood.  A guided tour of Gertrude Jekyll's iconic garden at Munstead Wood by the Head Gardener Annabel Watts and neighbour Gail Naughton, owner of The Quadrangle, once the working garden of Jekyll's estate.  The tour will also include a visit to Busbridge Church, home to Morris & Co windows and Lutyens' rood screen.  The churchyard is the resting place of Gertrude Jekyll.
There's a leaflet, and a booking form, which I've photo'd below.  The museum website has a small bit of information on the event at the moment, but it says: For more information, please contact or phone 01428 645425

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Peasants in Chicago?

I am not sure what to make of this hanging that is on The Art Institute of Chicago's website (here) as part of their collection: "probably designed by the Haslemere Peasant Industries".  It's described as 'Hanging' (1899/ 1901).  The hanging seems to have been come from the Louise A. Lutz estate (2009).  It is described as "Linen, plain weave; appliquéd with linen, plain weave; embroidered with cotton in stem, buttonhole, and satin stitches.  161.3 x 94.6 cm".

Hanging, 1899/1901
"probably designed by the Haslemere Peasant Industries"
The Art Institute of Chicago

There are numerous elements of this tapestry that seem familiar with the Peasant Arts movement works: the boats, the stylised trees, the flowers, the natural dye colours and the quote.  I am not sure that the design looks quite Haslemere Peasant Arts enough though?  The Scots pine type trees are a design that I have not seen by the movement before.  The sea in the background is also a composition that is unfamiliar.  The wording at the bottom does not sound meaningful enough.  The internet says that this phrase originates from a poem by Henry Lodsworth Longfellow, an American poet.   The size of the appliquéd linen pieces are all very small, and this seems a more intricate work than is typical of the Peasant Arts movement.

'The Deep Sea' Peasant Tapestry Wall-Hanging, designed by Godfrey Blount,
Studio International, vol 29

Embroidered Panel, Godfrey Blount, 1896, V&A MUSEUM
I am not an expert, but I do not think that this is designed by the Haslemere Peasant Industries, but I do think that it has been influenced by them.  What do you think?

The Sleeping Beauty 1907

The Haslemere Educational Museum has a large collection of Jospeh King’s postcards.  They are categorized by country and too plentiful to read in detail.  When I looked through these a few years ago, this one of a sleeping girl in Ticnio, Switzerland caught my eye.  The girl is shown in “costume ticinesi”, the typical dress of the peasants of the canton of Ticino, in South West Switzerland, which seems to have been a particularly poor region, as this account I found online seems to suggest (Swissinfo).  

1907 postcard from Joseph King at Locarno, Ticino
to Kitty King, from Haslemere Educational Museum

This records the memories of Clementina Rusconi born in 1905, by Franco Binda for his 1983 book 'The old people and the mountain'.  Clementina seems to have lived a life similar to that of the sleeping haymaker in the postcard that Joseph King sent his daughter, Kitty, on the 22nd April 1907.  Clementina recalls “People now say we lived that way because we were ignorant, but it is not true.  We were not ignorant, we just didn’t have any money.  For a day’s labour, from sunrise to sunset, we were paid SFr1.50 and, when when we could get that sort of work, eating polenta and cod was a luxury…We would cut wild hay in the area known as Al Valee, above Daghei, opposite Capelina (Val d’Osola)…All in all, we were unaware of our precarious situation and were more contented than people are now...For us, shows were a minor consideration.  It did not bother us much, because we were used to going barefoot.”

postcard detail,
1907 postcard from Joseph King at Locarno, Ticino
to Kitty King, from Haslemere Educational Museum

Joseph King writes to his daughter, Miss Kitty King”


This is such a place & such a lovely day to enjoy it. and the girls are so pretty & busy till they fall aside tired with work like The Sleeping Beauty whom you see on other side!  But I don’t love my dear girl at home the less because so many little peasant are pretty here. 

Dein Vater”

I wonder if King appreciated the hardship of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and I wonder what they made of him?

Carrying hay in the village of Sonogo in Val Verzasca

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The Set of Valances at the V&A

The final piece that I saw at the Clothworkers Hall was the set of valances that were made by the Haslemere Peasant Industries.  Seeing these up close provided a lot more detail than is visible online.

Set of valances,
Haslemere Peasant Industries c.1900-1905
at the V&A here

The colours and cloth seemed to be very similar to other Haslemere peasant tapestry pieces, and I note that since I wrote about these set of valances on December 2014, the V&A have removed their "possibly made" accreditation of the piece to Haslemere Peasant Industries, and now firmly accredit it to Haslemere Peasant Industries.

It was lovely to see the V&A's collection of Haslemere weaving and tapestry displayed together for my visit.  The majority of the works were by Luther Hooper but the valances occupied a special corner of the table.

A table of Haslemere weaving and tapestry,
August 2016 at
Clothworker's Hall, V&A
The tapestry looked very impressive from a far, but looking at it more closely I was reminded of my post 'Peasant Shopping - Part 4 - Sew You Own Peasant Tapestry' here where the Surrey Times (2 September 1899) reported on the Haslemere Weaving Industry "The work is sold at the depot in London of the Peasant Arts Society, and is exhibited at the Arts and Crafts, Homes Arts, and other handcart exhibitions….Specimens of Peasant Tapestry will be on view at the Tapestry House daily where also orders can be received for finished work, or work prepared for those who desire to sew it themselves."  

Looking more closely a pencil outline on the blue backing cloth is visible in numerous places outlining the leaves and chestnuts.  Not being familiar with the method used to create these tapestries, I do not really understand why there would be outlines on the backing cloth of the appliquéd shapes.  I would have thought that the leaves and chestnuts would have been cut out separately and then pinned and appliquéd on, which would not have led to pencil outlines, so that cannot be how the tapestry was made.  Also, the blue backing cloth has been economically used in places, with different pieces patched together to form the main background.

Set of valances, Haslemere Peasant Industries c.1900-1905
with outlines showing around chestnut and leaf
Victoria & Albert Museum

Set of valances, Haslemere Peasant Industries c.1900-1905
with outlines showing around the chestnut leaf
Victoria & Albert Museum

Set of valances, Haslemere Peasant Industries c.1900-1905
with different cloth sections sewed together on the top and bottom right
Victoria & Albert Museum

In places the thread on the tapestry is blue, and in others gold, so perhaps as well as running out of cloth they ran out of thread?

Blue and gold threads on the tapestry

Blue threads on the tapestry
The valances are all different lengths.  I had thought when I saw them online that the valances would have been used for a bed, but perhaps they were for windows instead?  In this photograph the middle valance on the table was a darker colour than the outer two, perhaps due to sunlight, although it does seem to be a more dirty colour?

Set of valances,
Haslemere Peasant Industries c.1900-1905
at the V&A

The end pattern of each valance is different, and I could not work out how they would have fitted together.   The bottom valance seemed to have lost it's ties.
different endings on the set of valances
Haslemere Peasant Industries c.1900-1905
at the V&A
I am no expert but my conclusion on this piece is that it does appear to originate from the Haslemere Peasant Industries, who am I to say that the V&A are wrong(!), but that it could not have been made by Godfrey Blount as it's make up is too amateurish.  Maybe it was made by women in the Tapestry Studio, like in the Art Journal photograph of 1906, or perhaps it was a 'sew your own' kit that was bought and made at home.

Sarah Tyssen, who is the weaver living at the Weaving House, and therefore is much more knowledgeable on this subject has told me: "The colour differences in the ground cloth could be down to the fact they were using natural dyes. It would be impossible to repeat the exact same colour in a different dye batch.  The handwoven cloth would also be very precious, and they would be restricted by the width/length woven, hence the joins in the ground cloth. 

The pencil lines may well have been drawn by Godfrey Blount as a guide? The pattern pieces could then be cut and stitched on by the women?"

The Tapestry Studio, Kings Road, Haslemere from Art Journal, 1906
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