INTRODUCTION TO
BRITISH ARTS AND CRAFTS

Named after the London-based Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society founded in 1888, the Arts and Crafts movement began initially as an ideological reaction to the de-humanizing effects of late 19th-century industrialization. Essential aims were to revive a medieval guild system with high standards of craftsmanship, to instill a pride of craft and to make truth to materials the basis of design. Early proponents (John Ruskin, William Morris and C.F.A. Voysey) espoused joy of labor and a return to simplified, honest forms. Stylized motifs, refined surfaces and proto-Art Nouveau lines were admirably realized in the work of Charles Robert Ashbee and Archibald Knox who eventually abandoned all stylistic imitations to forge a new design vocabulary.