Arts and Crafts Exhibition

A daytime flight to New York made it possible for me to get to grips with Jessica Douglas-Home’s fascinating biography of William Simmonds, the painter/sculptor/puppet-maker who was trained at the Royal Academy before the first world war and then worked as an assistant to Edwin Austin Abbey in Fairford and helped on the detailed design of the tank during the war.   I only half knew that in 1915, at the height of the First World War and despite opposition from the RA itself, the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society mounted a big exhibition at Burlington House which, in spite of late opening, a blackout, no catalogue and Zeppelin attacks, was a huge success, including a gallery devoted to the work of William Morris, Burne-Jones and Walter Crane and work by Gimson, Barnsley, Arnold Dolmetsch and Henry Wilson, the Society’s President.

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