Saturday, 22 September 2012

Haslemere's Diamond Jubliee Peasant Mural & Influences

To commemorate the Diamond Jubilee a number of local schools created a mural to decorate the empty site of the former Clements Windows factory on Weyhill.  The mural celebrates Haslemere's heritage.  A number of the painted panels are 'Peasant Arts influenced'.  I thought it was about time I shared their images on here.  It's unfortunate that the mural is on a pavement side of Weyhill which is rarely walked past, and it is difficult to observe the detail when driving past, so it was only when I bravely walked past it this morning, that I was able to identify the Peasant Arts influenced panels.

It is interesting to see the images of the Peasant Arts reinterpreted.  The railway line running between Godfrey Blount's trees is an interesting composition, as is the girls leaving Sandhouse with their spinning wheels (and one of them falling down!) and the Godfrey Blount deer approaching the Hindhead tunnel.

A section of Haslemere's Diamond Jubilee mural 

Peasant Arts influenced section of Haslemere's Diamond Jubilee mural

Tree of Life by Godfrey Blount, 1896
V & A Museum

Peasant Tapestry wall hanging by Godfrey Blount,
Studio International, vol 29, p125

Peasant Arts influenced section of Haslemere's Diamond Jubilee mural: the Wheel & Spindle Club walking outside Sandhouse

Girls carrying their spinning wheels to class, Sandhouse driveway
The Wheel and Spindle Club, Sandhouse, Witley
Reproduced courtesy of Haslemere Educational Museum
Sandhouse, Witley c.1902
Built for Joseph and Maude Egerton King by Francis Troup
from the Francis Troup Archive, RIBA

Peasant Arts influenced section of Haslemere's Diamond Jubilee mural:
the Wheel & Spindle Club

The Wheel and Spindle Club, Sandhouse, Witley
Carding and spinning. 
Reproduced courtesy of Haslemere Educational Museum
Peasant Arts influenced section of Haslemere's Diamond Jubilee mural:
the Wheel & Spindle Club and Maude Egerton King

Maude Egerton King? with some of her work,
Reproduced courtesy of Haslemere Educational Museum

Peasant Arts influenced section of Haslemere's Diamond Jubilee mural

section of Haslemere's Diamond Jubilee mural:
a Godfrey Blount deer by the new Hindhead tunnel
Deer design by Godfrey Blount
from Arbor Vitae, 1899

section of Haslemere's Diamond Jubilee mural:
some words from Tennyson

Friday, 14 September 2012

Another Peasant Industries piece at the V&A?

The Victoria and Albert Museum have recently added a third item to the 'artist/ maker' of the Haslemere Peasant Industries, although they have caveated it with "possibly, made".  It is intriguing, I wonder what any of you think about whether it was made by the Haslemere Peasant Industries?

Set of valances
possibly made by Haslemere Peasant Industries,
c.1900-1905, Victoria & Albert Museum 

The valance is described as “four embroidered upper valances of linen appliqué.  Ground of mid-blue plain weave linen with a pattern of an angular meandering stem acorn (based upon historic meandering leafy stem borders) bears leaves and nuts/ fruits.  Applique of plain weave linen in cream mid-brown, green and grey, pale blue and dark blue satin stitched silks secure outlines.  Lined with natural linen, a variety of fastening tapes are attached to the top edge.  The ground is pieced in places and drawing of pattern is occasionally visible on the blue ground.”   All four valances appear to be slightly different sizes, reflecting the individuality of each hand-made piece.  The four measurements are given as:
  • 21.5cm x 182cm
  • 22cm x 213cm
  • 20cm x 205cm
  • 23cm x 214cm
As they are described as upper valances, I presume they would either have been made for the top of a four poster bed or for windows.  I wonder which?

Interestingly the valances were given to the V&A by "JFW Morton and Courtaulds Ltd", in I believe 1977.  The linen on linen and satin stitching seems consistent with Haslemere's peasant tapestries.  As does the  drawing of the pattern being "occasionally visible" because it is well-documented that the tapestries were made by amateurs.  The green, yellow and orange colours of the fruits are similar to the colours in one of the Victoria & Albert Museum's other tapestries, The Spies (by Godfrey Blount, c.1900), a simple comparison shows them not be identical.  Unfortunately, most of the pictures of the tapestries are in black and white, so it is difficult to find many colour comparisons.

detail of The Spies,V&A Museum
(Blount, G., c.1900)

detail of Set of valances
possibly Haslemere Peasant Industries
V&A Museum (c.1900-1905)

The leaves appear to be horse chestnut leaves.  Godfrey Blount illustrates these in Arbor Vitae in his 'Classification of Leaves' chapter.   

from Arbor Vitae (Blount, G.,
Arthur Fifield, 1910, 3rd edition)

Blount's writing on the composition of 'the spiral' lends some understanding to the design.  Blount identifies different leaf shapes, of which the horse chesnut is one, and outlines the “four main positions of the petiole in regard to the spiral, and they apply equally well to most kinds of spiral and almost any form of leaf….I need not suggest, I should certainly fail to enumerate, how many delightful varieties of pattern can be based on these four methods; and even if we limited outselves to the narrowest paths that tradition allows, and refused to exercise any independent imagination, with our fifteen leaves and our four methods of insertion we should be able to supply our friends with a choice of at least sixty patterns if they happened to want to carve a lintel or embroider a table-cloth.

from Arbor Vitae (Blount, G.,
Arthur Fifield, 1910, 3rd edition)

"Once more let me warn you to avoid falling into any mechanical or methodical habit.  Remember that your original spiral may be gracefully Greek, or stiffly Gothic – as open as a tidal stream, or as sinuous as a mountain torrent.  Keep an open mind, too, in the matter of colour.  Every leaf is not green in Nature, nor every stalk brown.  Much may happen to the petiole itself before it reaches the leaf.  It may indulge itself in an extra twist or two to make up for a lack of agility in its parent stalk, or to show its own lightheartedness; or else it may become a minor and subordinate spiral, dividing itself and throwing off two or more leaves instead of one…But however diverse and replete our patterns become, we must always maintain their conventional arrangement; and however much we borrow ideas from Nature, we must never, except for purposes of study, copy her examples.  To do that, and call it Art, is rank blasphemy.  With such restrictions as these, the deeper our acquaintance with Nature is, the more interesting our patterns will become; but our knowledge must pass through the alembic of our imagination before it becomes Art."

rotated picture of Set of valances
possibly made by Haslemere Peasant Industries,
c.1900-1905, Victoria & Albert Museum 
from Arbor Vitae (Blount, G.,
Arthur Fifield, 1910, 3rd edition)

The location of the leaves and fruits are at the identical positions to those illustrated in Arbor Vitae.  If the leaves are horse chestnut, it would appear logical for the yellow and orange fruits to be representing the spiky horse chestnut seeds, which tend to be yellowy green, but then as Blount says, we should not be copying the examples of nature.   He writes that "….the bud and the fruit are simple enough to be used with great effect.  The first appearance of the bud is a knobbly protuberance on the side of the spiral.  Its first duty is to blance a leaf on the opposite side, or humbly help to fill an empty interstice whenever it may occur rather than to pose as itself the main feature of an interval
from Arbor Vitae (Blount, G.,
Arthur Fifield, 1910, 3rd edition)
from Arbor Vitae (Blount, G.,
Arthur Fifield, 1910, 3rd edition)

"…Some buds – especially those of large trees, such as the horse-chestnut, lime, and sycamore – develop into crosses or variously graceful shape, and are for that reason particularly valuable and suggestive."

Blount describes the place of fruit in the spiral “The flower too is really the apex of the tree, the crowning glory of the plant.  Shorn of stalk and leaf, like the prize blossoms in a flower show, it is on a surfeit of luxury, and a sin against good taste.  Such reasons as these prevent the flower from often taking the place of the lead in the spiral.  But where the flower fails, the fruit succeeds admirably, either as an occasional alternative to the leaf, or even…entirely as a substitute for it. 
from Arbor Vitae (Blount, G.,
Arthur Fifield, 1910, 3rd edition)
...Here too, the squirrel’s harvest of homely nuts, with all the rustic fruits of our forest trees, acorns and chestnuts, beech mast and pine cones, will have their place…Surely here, if anywhere, is the clasp of Nature’s necklace; here at once her beginning and her end.  Fuller than the leaf, simpler than the flower, the seed and the fruit are the first palpably solid forms we must learn to use.  Full of mystery; dead but how living!  Inert, but how active!  A grain of mustard seed to-day, but to-morrow the birds of the air shall make a town of it!...It is a source of myth and a motive of decoration, as true now as it ever was, and one that cannot fail to excite our keenest interest while the mystery of life remains, as may it ever, unsolved."  

The mystery of the origin of the Set of valances may not be conclusively solved, but they do appear to me to be authentic Haslemere Peasant tapestries.

from Arbor Vitae (Blount, G.,
Arthur Fifield, 1910, 3rd edition)

Another Peasant Tree

Having recently completed a MBA where I used 'Google Scholar' quite extensively for my dissertation, I have just started looking to see if there is any more Peasant Arts work on Google Scholar that I have not previously seen.

In Victorian Embroidery: An Authoritative Guide (Morris, B., New York: Thomas Nelson, 1962) there is a peasant tapestry of a tree which is similar in the entwined trunk design to a curtain illustrated in The Artist (November 1897) and featured in the Copse of Peasant Trees post.  The piece is described as being designed by Godfrey Blount and made by the Haslemere Peasant Industries around 1900, and being a "linen on linen applique embroidered in coloured silks".  This seems to be in private hands, a "Miss E. Hosslin" who ran the Peasant Arts shop in Haslemere after taking over the Haslemere Weaving Industry in 1933.  Compared to the curtain in The Artist, this is more elegant in length, has more intricate detailing on the leaves and patterning down the sides and bottom which I have not seen on other Blount tree tapestries.

Peasant Tapestry designed by Godfrey Blount c.1900
from Victorian Embroidery: An Authoritative Guide
(Morris, B.,Thomas Nelson, 1962 )

This is definitely a more refined piece, though not to everyone's taste.  Morris quotes the architect Baillie-Scott from The Studio (Vol. 28, 1903) "who made many designs for embroidery himself, speaks rather scathingly of the Haslemere work stating that "it is sometimes called peasant embroidery, probably because it is seldom practised by peasants and cannot be strictly described as embroidery.  In this the outline is made a feature of the design and like the lead in a stained-glass window, separates the different materials" (ibid).

Curtain of Peasant Tapestry,
designed by Godfrey Blount
The Artist, November 1897

A few Heritage Weekend memories

Some photographs have kindly been passed onto me by Gian who came along to the Peasant Art Walk.    They were taken outside the Weaving House where the owners had kindly set up a little refreshment stop and smaller version of the Peasant Arts Museum on the pavement!  Thank you for the memories.

Peasant Art Walk, September 2012
outside the Weaving House, Haslemere

Peasant Art Walk, September 2012

The Weaving House, 1902
Kings Road, Haslemere
from the Francis Frith archive

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Peasant Art Trail, Thank you

Thanks to everyone who came along this afternoon to the Peasant Art walk.  I hope you found it interesting.  Public speaking is not my favourite thing as you may have noticed!  Frankie Gaiter was as always a wealth of information on St Christopher's Church.  The refreshments and photographs and literature at the Weaving House were a lovely surprise.

Here is some information that we referred to during the afternoon which may be of interest:

- Alec Hamilton's excellent (2009) overview sheet of Charles Spooner, the architect of St Christopher's Church, Haslemere is online here.   I understand that Alec's soon to be published book on Charles Spooner is at the printers (it seems to have been there for a few months!)

- the watermill which according to Luther Hooper (Art Journal, 1911) was on the site of the now St George's flats on Kings Road, Haslemere was pictured in Tim Winter's Around Haslemere (Tempus Publishing Limited, 2002).  There are a few more details on my post A Historic Walk Down Kings Road
Puttick's Mill Foundry
from Winter, Tim, Around Haslemere,
Tempus Publishing Limited, 2002

- Francis Troup's country house masterpiece, Sandhouse (now Kingswood) in Sandhills, a few miles outside of Haslemere, near the village of Brook.  As you can see, it was quite a bit grander than the buildings we looked at today.  There is some more information on Troup in my Architecture: Francis W. Troup post.  There are a number of photographs of his works in RIBA's Francis Troup archive.

Sandhouse by Francis Troup, 1910
Built for Joseph & Maude Egerton King

- the Arthur Romney Green bookcase currently for sale in Yorkshire is here.  The top of the spindles is similar to the altar chair at St Christopher's Church.

Bookcase by Arthur Romney Green

Friday, 7 September 2012

May Day, Haslemere 1910

Following on from my May Day posts which included First of May is Garland Day , an article written in The Vineyard in 1911by Maude Egerton King, I have come across a report on Haslemere's May Day celebrations of 1910.

Peasant Tapestry curtain,
designed by Godfrey Blount
The Artist. November 1897

The Times ("May Day In London." Times [London, England] 2 May 1910: 6. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 7 Sep. 2012.) reported on a "Festival at Haslemere", writing that:

"A charming May Day festival took place at the Hall of St. George, Haslemere, on Saturday.  It was arranged by Mr and Mrs Godfrey Blount, who are well-known for their close association with the New Crusade, the Peasant Arts Society, and other movements connected with a higher life on simple lines.  The festival began with a big muster of children weaving garlands and wreaths, and carrying Maypoles adorned with wild flowers.  The children were awarded prizes for the prettiest displays.  A folksong concert with a lecture on homespuns and a demonstration of distaff and wheel hand-spinning followed.  The object of concert and demonstration simultaneously was to show that it is possible to do the necessary work of the world with musical accompaniments.

"The members of the Guild of Country Players concluded the festival with a display of Morris and country dancing."

The emphasis on working and listening to music, is particularly interesting.

from Arbor Vitae,
Godfrey Blount, Fifield, 1910

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Filius Nullius: Nobody's Child by Joseph King

I have managed to see this pamphlet, Filius nulls: nobody's child by Joseph King which was published in 1913, and is held in the London School of Economics Special Archives.  The short pamphlet is a fascinating reveal of Joseph King's support for women's rights, on a highly controversial moral issue at that time but which is trivial now, almost 100 years later.  This further supports the references to women's suffrage that I had found King associated with, and posted on previously in Suffragette Connections: Part 2 - The Politician.

Joseph King MP
c. 1910

"Prefatory Note
This pamphlet calls attention to a cruel injustice, wider in extent, more silently borne, and more bitterly resented by the sufferers than many grievances which have societies, sermons, subscription lists, etc., to accomplish their removal and mitigate their miseries.

The writer has been led to publish these pages by his growing conviction, confirmed from many quarters, that legislation is needed on this subject.  He has each Session since he entered the House of Commons introduced an Illegitimacy Bill, an outline of which appears on pages 28 ff post.  The correspondence and communications from all sorts and conditions of men and women, due to Press notices of his Bill, etc., have been convincing, and are referred to in this pamphlet.

Legislation on this question cannot be expected till Government takes it up, and that is hardly likely to come till the Home Secretary is made so aware that he cannot safely disregard the demand for legislation... 

J. King
House of Commons,
June, 1913."

The pamphlet begins with:

"Born without proper father or mother!

"860,327 children were born in England and Wales  1910 of legitimate birth, with married women for mothers; 36,635 were born of illegitimate birth, mostly unwanted children, with mothers indeed, but in the eyes of the law, filii nullius, the children of no one!  Handicapped at the start of life, subject to disabilities, disfavour and scorn, do these children get the equality of opportunity which a just society should mete out to all its members?  Few persons realize the magnitude of this social problem, the injustices of the present law, nor the extent to which old traditions and unfair conditions still oppress not only the unwanted children, but all classes of the community.

"The magnitude of the problem is excuse enough for facing it fairly and frankly.  Roughly, 1 in every 24 children born is illegitimate; about 4 in every 100!  In most cases an illegitimate birth means the loss of character, employment, home, reputation to the mother!  Perhaps driven from her parent’s home, perhaps in to the workhouse, often without any aid from the man who is fellow parent of her child, the mother pays a high price for her shame.  She pays in full in a few weeks for her own and for the man’s folly and sin.  Some say that she ought not to expect anything else.  But why should the little British citizen have to pay heavily…?"

King outlines "The Present Practice in Bastardy Cases…Suppose the mother has had no provision made for her child by the father, and suppose she is able to clearly show with some show of truth who the father is, recourse will be had to the magistrates to make an affiliation order, and she will have to go to the court under strict rules of law.  Under these conditions a woman, who is about to become, or has become, the mother of a bastard, may apply to a justice for a summons against the man who is father of the child; but the application must, as a rule, be made within twelve months of the child’s birth.  When the summons has been issued, and served on the man, he has six days before the hearing.  He is entitled to this to prepare his defence, but sometimes uses this interval to flee the country or abscond.  If he appears at the hearing, the evidence of the woman, which is essential, must be given first and in open court, and must be corroborated in some material particular by other testimony to the satisfaction of the justices.  If her story is uncorroborated, however plain and probable it may be, the case is dismissed.  But suppose there is a corroborated case to answer; it too often happens that the woman or girl has no legal adviser and the man is well represented; in such cases she stands a poor chance of getting an order made the he should contribute anything.  But suppose she wins the case, the maximum amount which the justices can order is five shillings a week till the child is sixteen; the sum is inadequate.”

"...The Woman’s Grievances are, in view of her inevitable physical and mental sufferings, very great;
(1) She cannot obtain by legal process any maintenance for herself for the time before her child is born.  She may lose her employment, be turned out of her home or lodgings – these things often happen – and she may be driven into the workhouse, she may even be driven to deception, fraud, or even vice to keep her head above water, but she can obtain nothing till her child is born.  She ought to have a legal remedy, by which she could get from the man some maintenance and something to support her in her trouble and confinement.    There ought to be a Maternity Order made where a woman is in such conditions as just stated, say for three months before and one month after the birth; a maximum of ten shillings a week would meet the case.  Such a provision would save many women who sink at this crisis into conditions of nameless disgrace.  It would give indirectly to many babes a healthier, happier entry into life and make their whole future prospect brighter."

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