Friday, 6 May 2011

The HAIA & the Peasant Arts Movement

The Peasant Arts movement mirrored the activities of the Home Arts and Industries Association (HAIA) by running craft classes, sending teachers into communities and exhibiting their products.  Mrs G.F. Watts (Mary Seton Fraser Tytler) of nearby Compton was a notable HAIA figure.
Example of Compton Pottery c.1902,
A successful HAIA venture.  Tankard wording: 'Compton in Surrey',
'St Nicholas on a pilgrims way shed sweeter roses day by day'
A good overview of the HAIA is given by Myzelev (Craft Revival in Haslemere: she, who weaves…, Women's History Review, Vol 18, Issue 4, 2009): "Organisations such as the HAIA which provided patronage and exhibition venues for various craft schools, classes, and workshops,   were regarded as amateurish.  The HAIA's products, although often accorded serious critical attention, with reviews of the annual exhibitions in The Studio were purchased because of the desire top support the cause of ameliorating the plight of the labouring classes.  The HAIA belonged to the tradition of the peasant arts revival that sought to re-establish or revive indigenous crafts; this pan-European movement linked the crafts with National Romanticism....
Newlyn Cooper,
another successful HAIA venture

The HAIA functioned as a sponsoring institution for many independent ventures, unifying disparate craft classes and workshops established in isolated communities.  Its national and regional exhibitions encouraged exchange of ideas and experience plus sharing resources.  Classes were primarily aimed at the rural population: men, women and children taught a variety of crafts to enrich their lives and to ‘open their eyes’ to the beauty of the surrounding countryside.  The principal aim was to provide ‘rationale recreation’, to steer workers away from bad influences…Only a few organizations under the auspices of the HAIA became viable rural industries; the Compton Pottery, the Keswick Industrial Art School and Newlyn Copper representing the success stories.”

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