Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Peasants at The Albert Hall, 1896

Reviews on the work of the Haslemere weaving movement began to appear in the press in 1896.  Following on from the report of Godfrey Blount's election to the parish council in Kirtlington in 1894 in my previous post, the next reference to Godfrey Blount in the popular press is at the Home Arts and Industries Exhibition at Albert Hall.  Here Blount and the work of Mrs Joseph King appears together for the first time.

Royal Albert Hall c. 1896
The Lichfield Mercury (10 July 1896) reported in their ‘Our Ladies’ Column’:

“I paid a most interesting visit a week or two since to the Exhibition of Home Arts and Industries at the Albert Hall…Some extremely beautiful work, bold and simple in design and refreshing in colour, was exhibited by Mr and Mrs Godfrey Blount, and of that also I hope to write to you more in detail some other time.

“I was much interested to find that the carving done by the Altrincham clubs had been taught by Mr Philips, once a foreman under Mr Faulkner Armitage.  But, all this time, I was trying to make my way to the hand-looms on which Mrs Joseph King has been teaching her village friends to do such good and artistic weaving; and even my friend, Miss Clive Bayley, with her Lapland loom and her kind offer of a cup of tea, failed to give me pause for more than a very few minutes, so bent was I on reaching Mrs King’s stall.  So much of Mrs King’s work, however, had already been sold, including the shelf bought by HRH the Princess of Wales, that I look forward to visiting her in her own country home near Haslemere and seeing for myself the weaving which is being done there under her guidance.  The designs are mainly the work of Mr Godfrey Blount and I am told that it is wonderful what new life and colour has been put into the lives of the women who have learned to weave them.  Mrs King told me some time ago that it was merely the work itself which seemed to be a new interest for them, but it was as if, through the educating power of the work, the whole field of the lives became brighter and more intelligent.  

“I know how long Mrs King has had this desire at heart, and how quietly and patiently she has achieved it, and I could not see and handle the durable promising textures, woven on her looms in such simple grace of pattern and of colour, without some sense of the sacredness of outward things when at the heart of them, beauty and helpfulness are at one.  Mrs King is a daughter of Mr Hine, the former vice-president of the Royal Institute of Water Colours, whose pictures only need to be known in order to be loved.”

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