“Quiet descended on her, calm, content”*

In 2005, London’s fabulous Victoria and Albert Museum held a wonderful exhibition about the Arts and Crafts Movement.  Oh, how sublime it was to waft, Mrs Dalloway-style, through room after room of the most gorgeous jewellery, furniture, textiles and all sorts of other emphemera – why not take a wander through this beautiful online gallery to get your own idea of what it must have been like…

And to accompany us on this magical journey?  A specially commissioned album of music by British composers inspired by traditional folk songs and the countryside – precisely in keeping with the values of the arts and crafts ideals, which were the promotion of traditional craftmanship using simple forms, with the application of medieval, romantic or folk styles of decoration.  All performed beautifully by the English String Orchestra.

What pleasure such simple music can bring.  So delicate, fleeting – like one’s half-dreams when dozing in the late-summer sun.  Gossamer lilts need no effort in the listening, diaphenous wafts on the air mix with the pollen in the lazy breeze.

Here is one example – Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Greensleeves

And one other – Butterworth’s The Banks of Green Willow

Other tracks are more robust – not everything about the countryside and nature is idyllic of course:  there is toil, poverty and loss.  But there is honest reward in the end.  This piece, Holst’s Somerset Rhapsody perhaps captures the whole gamut.

It would not be right for me to leave a post about the Arts and Crafts Movement without giving specific reference to William Morris, the English textile designer (among other things), and the Movement’s leader.  I’ll finish with but one of his many iconic designs, The Strawberry Thief – it seems to me that time is easily stolen away when one is immersed in the beauty of these visual and aural treasures.


*From Mrs Dalloway – Virginina Woolf

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8 thoughts on ““Quiet descended on her, calm, content”*

  1. I know I am married to you, but I don’t get to see this sooner than anyone else. I think this one of the best you have done, and that really is saying something

  2. Thanks for taking me on your trip to the Arts and Craft Exhibition. A few years back we had a William Morris exhibition at our Gallery in Christchurch. It was superb. I wanted to touch everything but, of course, that was out of the question. Don’t believe there was any music wth the exhibition.

    1. I know exactly what you mean about touching everything – the beautiful exhibits at the V&A seemed so tactile – I guess that was one of the key things behind the design ethic. Your exhibitioon sounds as if it was wonderful too. Thank you so much for your comment!

  3. I am a Greene & Greene fan. Was just looking at some inside photos of Greene’s DL James House in Carmel, in a newly published book about Maynard Parker a photographer of ranch. & arts & crafts homes of that era. If you want to see the post, and the DL James house, it was one of my earliest posts under interior/exterior design. This is my favorite Greene home.
    Greensleeves was one of the first things I learned to play and still a favorite,
    Really enjoying your interesting & informative blog!
    Cheers.

    1. You are right – the Carmel house looks stunning. I am always in awe at the vision demonstrated by architects such as Greene, who also have the drive to see through precisely what they imagined.

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