Con­tin­u­ing the move­ment

Lancashire Life - - HOMES & INTERIORS -

The spirit of the Arts and Crafts Move­ment is alive and well

in the Lake Dis­trict, as PAUL MACKEN­ZIE re­ports

Wil­liam Morris, the doyenne of the Arts and Crafts move­ment, was un­equiv­o­cal in his be­liefs. ‘Have noth­ing in your home you do not know to be useful or believe to be beau­ti­ful,’ he said.

The move­ment railed against mass pro­duc­tion and cel­e­brated long-last­ing in­di­vid­u­ally hand­crafted fur­ni­ture and de­signs.

And it’s a phi­los­o­phy that is be­ing kept alive by Dan Critch­ley at the work­shop of the Rus­land Move­ment in Green­odd.

An ex­hi­bi­tion of their work is now be­ing held at Blackwell, one of the spir­i­tual homes of the move­ment.

The Grade One listed house was de­signed by ar­chi­tect Bail­lie Scott as a hol­i­day home for Manch­ester in­dus­tri­al­ist and two times Lord Mayor, Sir Ed­ward Holt. The de­sign fol­lows the Arts and Crafts prin­ci­ples of mak­ing the most of its sur­round­ings, the light and the views from the eastern shore of Win­der­mere.

Dan is the founder and cre­ative de­sign di­rec­tor of the

Rus­land Move­ment, a team of nine crafts­peo­ple who draw in­spi­ra­tion from their sur­round­ings on the fringe of the Lake Dis­trict to cre­ate pieces in­spired by na­ture.

He first vis­ited Blackwell al­most two decades ago and the ex­pe­ri­ence had a big im­pact on the then Ken­dal Col­lege stu­dent. ‘I was train­ing to be a cab­i­net maker and was ex­plor­ing dif­fer­ent de­sign ideas,’ he said. ‘We had a col­lege trip to Blackwell and un­til that mo­ment I knew noth­ing of the Arts and Crafts move­ment.

‘What I re­alised that day, was that the di­rec­tion my work was tak­ing, was an Arts and Crafts one. That visit ce­mented my love of Arts and Crafts and ul­ti­mately led to the cre­ation of The Rus­land Move­ment.’

They now cre­ate be­spoke hand-crafted fur­ni­ture for clients across the coun­try and it’s not just the fin­ished piece that’s one-off a, the ser­vice is also unique. Dan will visit the home of ev­ery­one who com­mis­sions a piece, to see where it will stand, the light, the ex­ist­ing dé­cor and how the fam­ily lives. His de­sign will then take these fac­tors into con­sid­er­a­tion and clients will be sent pho­to­graphs and film clips of their fur­ni­ture be­ing crafted.

Me­gan Hen­shall, who takes and sends those pic­tures, said: ‘You could go to a shop and get a per­fectly ad­e­quate piece of

fur­ni­ture, but the pieces created here are a con­tin­u­a­tion of what has gone be­fore. They are crafted us­ing tra­di­tional skills by peo­ple who put their heart and soul into the work and it’s a piece that has never been made be­fore and will prob­a­bly never be made again.

‘Most of our clients are not in this area – peo­ple come to the Lakes for a weekend away and when they’re back in Ca­nary Wharf, or wher­ever, hav­ing a piece of hand-crafted fur­ni­ture takes them back to that won­der­ful time. It’s a bit of the Lake Dis­trict in their home.

‘Our fur­ni­ture is not cheap, but it’s not only for the very wealthy. It’s for peo­ple who get what we are do­ing here. We have had peo­ple sav­ing and investing in our fur­ni­ture to mark a spe­cial an­niver­sary, or time in their lives.

‘En­vi­ron­men­tally it’s not prac­ti­cal to keep re­plac­ing things. Ours is beau­ti­ful fur­ni­ture that serves a pur­pose and will out­live the peo­ple who com­mis­sioned it and be cher­ished for years.’

And she added: ‘When Blackwell ap­proached Dan about an ex­hi­bi­tion, they told him that while some peo­ple copy the de­signs of the Arts and Crafts move­ment, they believed he had de­vel­oped those ideas and that he is do­ing what they would be do­ing if they were around now. They weren’t against tech­nol­ogy, and nei­ther are we, we op­pose mass pro­duc­tion.’

In ‘A De­sign Lin­eage: The Rus­land Move­ment at Blackwell’, vis­i­tors can ex­plore how the fur­ni­ture is sketched, re­alised in 3D mod­els and crafted in the Green­odd stu­dio. Among the pieces on dis­play in the ex­hi­bi­tion are an el­e­gant cock­tail cab­i­net, sofa and chair, desk, side­board, bed­side ta­ble, mir­ror and drawer unit.

Vis­i­tors will be able to speak to mem­bers of the Rus­land Move­ment at a se­ries of monthly Meet the Maker events and there a pro­gramme of lec­tures and talks is tak­ing place in Blackwell’s Main Hall.

A De­sign Lin­eage: The Rus­land Move­ment at Blackwell runs un­til June 9, 2019. For more de­tails go to blackwell.org.uk or therus­land­move­ment.co.uk.

Rus­land Move­ment founder and de­sign di­rec­tor Dan Critch­ley

ABOVE: A cock­tail cab­i­net made by the Rus­land Move­ment

Sourc­ing wood for Rus­land Move­ment fur­ni­ture

The Rus­land Move­ment, like the orig­i­nal pro­po­nents of the Arts and Crafts Move­ment, are not op­posed to tech­nol­ogy, but to the use of tech­nol­ogy for mass pro­duc­tion

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