This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
IF the National Art Competition were really national as well as so in name, how much more significant the annual exhibition might be of our progress in art instruction ! This reflection must have occurred to many of the visitors leaving the display of students' work collected in the Indian Annex of the Imperial Institute, after viewing that of the Royal College of Art, over at Queen's Gate, or vice versa. It is difficult to see what useful purpose is served by isolating the work of the department's chief art school, and depriving its students of the stimulus of competition with their confreres outside the capital. The answer will be that the Royal College of Ait is the training school for teachers, and it would not be fair to the ordinary student to invite competition with them. But the student at South Kensington is not yet a teacher - he is only potentially one. And is not the advanced student in the technical schools of, say, Birmingham, Liverpool, or Nottingham, also an art teacher potentially, fully able to meet the South Kensington man on equal terms ? It the work of the latter is indeed stronger than that of his provincial confrere, by all means let it mark a distinct standard, but why not then make it possible for the advanced students of any school in the country to compete for its honours ?
What harm would be done, I wonder, if the Board of Education were to allow private schools to submit work of their pupils for the competition ? There is none that can be readily conceived by the average mind unaffected by such considerations as would be likely to bias conservative officialdom. Substantial advantages, on the oilier hand, might be expected to accrue to the College by the accession of clever disciples primed henceforth to spread the gospel of South Kensington. Principals of private schools who did not regard the successes of their pupils as the best kind of advertisement for themselves might demur at their translation. So far as the pupils themselves are concerned, no doubt many of them at first would be handicapped in their candidature by having had their work prepared under masters educated under a system which is no longer approved at South Kensington; but in view of the rapidly spreading influence of the new teaching, the question of conformity is one that would soon adjust itself. It would be interesting to get an expression of views on the subject from teacher and pupil readers of Arts and Crafts.
Some interesting figures may be extracted from the statistics of the results of the National Art Competition. In the first place, it is noticeable that while the number of works (6,460) entered for competition was the largest for the past three years.
the number of awards (610) was the smallest. The largest number of awards (663) was made in 1002, when the number of works entered (5,422) was the smallest. Last year 5,722 works were entered and there were 663 awards.
This year, 9 gold medals, 52 silver medals, 103 bronze medals and 363 prizes of books were awarded. In the roll of honour, the Birmingham School of Art is easily first with 41 awards, made up of gold medal, 5 silver medals, 13 bronze medals and 23 book prizes. The Liverpool (Mount Street) School comes next with 27 awards, including 1 gold medal, 6 silver medals and 9 bronze medals. New Cross is third with 19 awards, including 1 gold medal, 2 silver medals and 9 bronze medals. The Battersea Polytechnic has 18 awards, including I silver medal and 9 bronze medals. Nottingham has one award less, but it has the unique distinction of winning 2 gold medals. The remaining gold medals go to Plymouth (Technical School), which scores 10 awards; Hanley, the same number; West Ham, 8 awards; Derby, 5 awards. Other schools which scored particularly well are: Manchester (Cavendish Street) with 17 awards (3 silver medals); Worcester and Leeds, each 17 awards; Burslem and Camberwell, each 14; Wolverhampton, 13; Regent Street Polytechnic, Newcastle-on-Tyne (Durham College), and Holloway, each 12; Leicester (the Newarke School) and West Bromwich, 11 each.
The continued decline in the quality of designs for wall-papers submitted for competition moves the examiners to "suggest that there is an opportunity for a clever student to distinguish himself in this branch of design." I venture to remark that the opportunity for distinction is not restricted to students. Professional designers of wall-papers would seem to have about reached the limit of their invention, especially in regard to such papers as might be bought by a person of moderate means. Since the bad old days of the "sixties," I do not recall a time when a poorer selection was offered, even by some shops of artistic pretensions. The evil is aggravated no doubt by the selfish trade policy of withdrawing from the market each season the wall-papers of the season before; so that even if a paper of good colour and good design at a moderate price happens now and then to be available, it soon disappears from the public view. Perhaps some day one of our great furnishing houses will have the courage to meet the situation by advertising that it will continue to stock all its best papers year in and year out, without regard to "novelty." A house of artistic pretensions ought to live up to the fact that a thing of beauty is a joy for ever.
The Final Operation: Removing the Mould from the Cast.
Casting in Plaster.
A Practical Demonstration Of The Process By Mr. Enrico Cantoni, Moulder to the Royal College of Art.
Illustrated With Special Photographs.
(Continued from page 221.)