Thursday, 29 March 2018

Godfrey Blount, the Peasants & the Clarion Guild of Handicraft

In 1901 Blount is described as “urging the readers of the Clarion to pay more attention to Morris’s aesthethic theories.  In response, Julia Dawson helped to launch the Clarion Handicraft Guild ‘Joy in work, and hope in leisure’ became their motto” (Waters, Chris, British Socialists and the Politics of Popular Culture, 1884-1914, Manchester University Press, 1990, p173).

The Comrade, Volume 3, Number 3, p.57 

Godfrey Blount’s applique panel ‘The Spies’ which is held by the Victoria & Albert Museum, is recorded as being exhibited in 1903 at the second annual exhibition  of the Clarion Guild.  The Peasant Arts Society is listed as lending it's sympathetic support to the exhibition as one of the “best-known and most successful craftsmen and craftswomen in the country” (Spargo, John, ‘Socialism and the Arts and Crafts Movement’, The Comrade, Volume 3, Number 3, p.57 )  Edmund Hunter also exhibited a woven strip.   

from The Comrade, Volume 3, Number 3
The Clarion Guild of Handicraft encouraged ordinary people to undertake handicrafts "As most of the members are workingmen and women who have to earn their living during the day, they are only able to devote their scanty leisure to the pursuit of the their ideals in this direction.  They rent a room for guild purposes, holding meetings for discussion, classes, and the like, and doing their work there.  Thus they overcome a very serious obstacle which the lack of room in their homes presents.  They avoid making workshops of their already too cramped and overcrowded homes.  …Annual exhibitions are a feature of the new movement and a beautiful challenge shield of embossed colored leather, the work of a member of one of the Guilds, is awarded to the local Guild which makes the best exhibit.    At the second annual exhibition, held in the quaintly beautiful city of Chester, last Easter, Walter Crane, in a felicitous speech awarded it to the Liverpool Guild." (ibid.)

The Comrade, Volume 3, Number 3, p.57
As Spargo concluded "Why should we not have Socialist Handicraft Guilds in this country?  I see no reason why we should not have "Comrade Guilds" patterned after the "Clarion Guilds".  For we, too, are of the faith." (ibid.) 

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