While it may be true that it is seemingly only recently that there has been a demand to legislate equality for women within the arts, it is also true that women in every culture and in every age have wanted to be educated – to read and write, and to learn to create new things. This was certainly true in the Victorian period of England when the Arts and Crafts Movement began. As is usually the case, some women have found ways to make these dreams come true, and they achieved some very beautiful things. In the Arts & Crafts period, women learned how to paint, design embroidery, throw and decorate pottery, design buildings, work with stained-glass, sometimes with their fathers, brothers, and husbands and sometimes by themselves. We could go on. But their work was not always recognized and rarely celebrated or appreciated.
In June 2022, Arts & Crafts Tours examined the work of women who designed and created beautiful buildings and objects. This tour was based on a series of articles dedicated to the women of the arts and crafts movement.
On this tour, we looked at work in museums and in private collections. We met and talked with scholars, authors, collectors and current craftworkers and artists – people who have studied this for a long time who will be our guides and hosts. As a special treat, we met with the grandchildren or other descendants of some of those women who shared their memories with us.
We began this tour in Scotland where we saw work by Phoebe Anna Traquair and Margaret MacDonald Mackintosh among others, before heading south to see work by Sarah Losh and then to see Mary Watts’ glorious Chapel.
As you read the articles on women artists authored by scholars, authors, collectors, museum directors and curators, the work these women created will come to life. This tour made us understand more about why the women were drawn to create the things they made and why the things they worked on were especially meaningful to them.
Undoubtedly, there was more work to examine than we were able to comfortably fit into a week-long tour, and we are planning to offer a second tour in the future.