This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
AN address by Mr. R. Catterson-Smith, prin-cipal of the Municipal School of Art, Birmingham, on "The Influence of Handicrafts of Art Teaching in Elementary and Secondary Schools," was listened to with much interest. Having set forth the distinction between the teaching of drawing and the teaching of art, he stated his conviction that, while the advantages of teaching simple drawing were obvious, there was a grave danger in the present system of what was called teaching Design, He found in the elementary schools that Design is being taught by persons who could not have the knowledge or experience necessary to teach it, even if the schools were adequately equipped for the purpose. What they are teaching is the habit of planning on paper arrangements such as the teachers have seen in periodicals whose object is to give the latest fashion in design, or what they have gained perhaps, he should say "acquired," as the gain is doubtful - in their efforts to secure South Kensington certificates. This planning On paper is, as a rule, not based upon any idea of the application of the designs to manufacture or material. Nor do 1 believe there is any need for this teaching of so-called design, he continued; for my experience s that children commonly have a gift of design, and in a much finer form than anything they can be taught. I say frankly that I doubt the possibility of teaching Design. Now, 1 would suggest that that sort of design teaching be dropped, and that its place be taken by drawing from pieces by nature, such as leaves and flowers mostly, but also birds, quadrupeds and fish - if possible, alive.
Failing the real things, gel the best representations that can be had of them, avoiding "art" treatments, but seeking drawings done by conscientious draughtsmen, rather than by draughtsmen who draw with art spectacles on their eves. These objects should be drawn in different ways - with pencil, in tone, for exhaustive drawing; in pen and ink for decision; with a brush in wash for "fluid" freedom - and in Outline. When flal outline examples are used they should be done from fine simple pieces of well-known work, recognised In the best authorities as a good stock to graft upon with plenty of vitality in it, and allied closely to nature - such as line gothic.
So far I have been chiefly speaking of elementary schools. Hut to the secondary schools a great deal of what I have said both by way of criticism as well as suggestions of change applies. As the pupils ill these schools have a longer educational period than in the elementary schools, and as a class are likely to form a large proportion of the purchasing public, and are not likely to form any considerable part of the ordinary working craftsmen, 1 think their training should bring them in contact with art as well as with simple drawing. Good examples of artwork - nut pictures - only should be shown to them; work, I should say, by artists whom time has sanctioned, and in lew cases - if any - works by contemporary artists. They should have lectures and demonstrations given to them by craftsmen, who would explain the processes of the manufacture of things in daily use. This would be done with the object of awakening an intelligent interest in such subjects, and helping to guide in the selection of works of craftsmanship, such as pottery, glassware, metal work, and in the making of fabrics. Architectural structure should have some place in these lectures. The choice of such things is now-left to chance or fashion.
I think every lesson in drawing should have some of the time - and the more the better - given to memory drawing. The best method, so far as I can see, is to expose an object to view for a short time - say, a few minutes - and to point out to the pupils the essential character of the object, its structure, and whatever else the teacher may know-about it; keeping well to the front the general aspect of the object, in order to avoid a mechanical building up of it when drawing it from memory.
To sum up briefly what I have been striving to say: -
(1) Any attempt to teach Design apart from craftsmanship is useless and harmful, both for those who may become craftsmen and for those who may become purchasers of craftsmanship. (2) The time spent in this useless teaching could be employed to great advantage in teaching simple drawing soundly and in the careful observation of natural forms, which necessarily accompanies careful drawing.
"Art Training Of The Artisan."
MR. John Williams, Principal of the Artistic Crafts Department of the North ampton Institute, Clerkenwell, E.C., then read a paper entitled as above. He said that it was not his purpose to deal with the subject of art training as applicable to the artisan in general, but only to those whose daily occupation in workshops or factories is restricted to industries which may be classified as artistic crafts. Such trades for example as goldsmiths, jewellers, silversmiths, engravers, chasers, enamellers, wood and stone carvers, painters, decorators, bookbinders, and metal workers, these and many others such as the building and woodworking trades demand on the part of those engaged in them a certain knowledge of drawing, design or modelling in addition to the practical work. He did not include those who may be termed artist craftsmen - i.e., those who have had a general training and art education beyond that of the artisan, and his remarks would apply chiefly to those working in London, the conditions in the provincial town differing somewhat from those existing there.
The use of machinery has resulted in a reduced cost of production and the substitution of mechanical for hand-wrought work. It is also responsible for the enormous increase in the number of articles made; these have necessarily affected the position of the artisan workers, in many cases eir crafts have almost disappeared or are subdivided into many branches, which are often Considered now as separate trades.