The Arts and Crafts Movement in the UK began as an International Movement for the promotion of The Decorative and Fine Arts. It later moved onto Europe and The United States between 1880 and 1910 and then emerged in Japan in the 1920s. During this time, 130 Art and Craft organisations were formed in the U.K.
The Arts and Crafts Movement first started as a reaction against “the perceived impoverished state of The Decorative Arts at the time and the conditions in which they were produced”. The Arts and Crafts practitioners in the U.K. were critical of The Government system of Art Education which was based on design in the abstract with little teaching of practical craft.
The Arts and Crafts Movement stood for traditional craftsmanship using simple forms, and often used medieval, romantic or folk styles of decoration and its influence has continued among craft makers and designers today.
John Ruskin (1819-1900) who was a Poet, Writer, Artist, Art Critic, Teacher, Philosopher, and Conservationist called for “the revival of traditional craftsmanship and a return to spiritual values of handcrafting from natural materials.”
William Morris, the Designer, who was often called The Father of The Arts and Crafts Movement greatly admired John Ruskin and was influenced by his writings saying:
“To some of us when we first read it, now many years ago, it seemed to point out a new road which the world should travel”.
Morris said that “Craftsmen should be free, creative and work with their hands unlike the machine which was soulless, repetitive and inhuman”.
When I was working in Rome, The Italians were very concerned about The Asian Market, who produced the same goods by machine undercutting the local Craftsmen.
In John Ruskin’s book “The Stones of Venice” he says that many significant buildings were built on the effort of the individual skilled craftsman and these works established the criteria for judging the value of Art(s). Ruskin, who was later a Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford, and The Creator of The Ruskin School of Drawing, also formed The Guild of St.George in 1871 with the aim of preserving local crafts and craftsmanship. The Guild is still active today.