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"Walter Crane (1845-1915): Wallpaper, Costumes and Book Design Alongside The Triumph of Labour"
2001-09-11 until 2001-09-23
South London Gallery
London, , UK United Kingdom

Hidden beneath the wooden floor at South London Gallery is a huge marquetry panel designed by the 19th century artist, designer and socialist activist, Walter Crane (1845-1915). As part of London Open House 2001, the stunning original floor will be revealed for the first time in 10 years and shown alongside examples of Crane's wallpaper, costumes and book design, as well as his 1891 poster, 'The Triumph of Labour'.

Founded by philanthropist William Rossiter, the South London Gallery opened on its present site in 1891. Rossiter was supported by a group of prominent contemporary artists, including John Ruskin and Frederic, Lord Leighton. The aim of the founding committee was to bring art to local working people, to create South London's own 'National Gallery'. Crane's interest in the Gallery was fostered by his socialist beliefs.

Walter Crane was commissioned by the Gallery's Council of Management to produce a unique inlaid wood panel as a centrepiece for the floor. Thought to be the only design of its kind by Crane, it contains motifs familiar from his illustrated work, including square, circular, diamond and fish-scale patterns. The original design incorporated a blank area for a marble memorial that Crane later replaced with a panel bearing the inscription 'The source of art is in the life of a people'. The floor was funded and constructed by Charles Steinitz & Co.

A contemporary of William Morris, Crane is widely acknowledged as having had a significant influence on the international Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau movements. He was a prolific writer, particularly about art and socialism, and an admirer of John Ruskin's ideas. A large textile frieze, illustrated books, original watercolour designs, wallpaper samples and theatrical costumes shown alongside the floor are indicative of Crane's diverse output. The display includes a number of previously un-exhibited works from public and private collections, including Camberwell College of Art, The Artworkers' Guild and The Victoria & Albert Museum.

On Friday 14 and Friday 21 September, Chris Jordan, Curator of the Permanent Collection, will give a lunchtime talk at the Gallery at 1pm. Admission Free

This exhibition has been supported by The Camberwell Society, The Decorative Art Society, The Fine Art Society and London Borough of Southwark.


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