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‘Persian sprig’ wallpaper designed by Owen Jones

Registered by John Trumble and Company on 23 June 1858. BT 43/97/114061. ‘Persian Sprig’ again reflects Jones’ interest in Islamic design. It also demonstrates his design precepts. He said that ‘all direct representations of nature in paper hangings should be avoided’ but instead natural forms should be ‘conventionalised’, or stylised, and distributed across the surface using geometric principles. Jones was well-known as a colour theorist, and received high praise for his colour schemes for the interior of the Crystal Palace. For wallpapers, he said that colours should be blended so that from a distance they would present ‘a neutralised bloom’.

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Wallpaper registered by Heywood, Higginbottom, Smith & Co on 22 May 1851

BT 43/88/78974. This is an example of the kind of design the reformers deplored. In 1852 Henry Cole put on an exhibition at the Museum of Manufactures at Marlborough House called the ‘Gallery of False Principles in Decoration’. This provided examples of where British manufacturers were going wrong, the accompanying Catalogue explaining the various violations of the reformers’ principles of design. The wallpaper, intended to celebrate the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace, showed great skill and complexity in its manufacture. However, it was exhibit number 28 in the Gallery of False Principles, condemned because it ‘falsified perspective’. Clearly it failed to meet other measures of ‘correct’ design, being neither ‘subdued’, ‘conventionalised’ nor ‘flat’.

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Textile designed by A W N Pugin

Registered by Frederick Crace & Son on 28 May 1850. BT 43/357/69572. This is one of the few printed, as opposed to woven, textiles designed by Pugin. The flat pattern is highly original, and combines ogee forms and fleur-de-lis motifs inspired by medieval art with flower forms and trailing leaves. Pugin was one of the first architect/designers to be involved in all aspects of the decorative arts, and regarded textiles as an important aspect of interior design. Registered as a furnishing fabric, this textile was used in the interior scheme of Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire, and is thought to have been displayed in the Medieval Court at the Great Exhibition of 1851.

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Wallpaper designed by A W N Pugin

Registered by Frederick Crace & Son on 12 October 1848. BT 43/84/54787. The architect and designer A W N Pugin was a pioneer of design reform and promoted a revival of Gothic art, which he associated with the Christian values of a pre-industrial age. He is perhaps now best known for his work with Charles Barry on the new Palace of Westminster, for which this wallpaper was made. It was inspired by fifteenth century Italian textile design, and reflects Pugin’s belief that three-dimensional effects in wallpaper should be avoided as ‘dishonest’. Instead the pattern should be flat, reflecting the flat surface of the wall and what he termed ‘truth to materials’.

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Green Purbeck Marble

Digital Photograph 2013

©Rose Ferraby

The polished surface of this stone glimmers with the sectioned remains of ancient shells. The gaping Unio and whirling Viviparus shells give a clue as to its identity. Though not strictly a marble, the high polish taken by this limestone has been made use of since the Roman times. A band of landscape in Purbeck is pitted and uneven where the marble was dug for cathedrals and tombs. It continues to be highly valued.

 

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The Musicians’ Journal, No. 27 (January 1928)

In this New Year message, the Journal linked its ambition to increase subscriptions with two other campaigns. It targets Armed Forces Bands for playing public concerts free of charge and undermining civilian musicians’ employment. And it scorns what one official called “a glorified Gramophone, the Panatrope, the proprietors of which seem to think it is going to do away with orchestras. …There does not seem to be any immediate danger of this Machine being used extensively to the detriment of our members.”

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The Musicians’ Journal, New Series 4 (January 1930)

This cartoon was reproduced in the Journal thanks to the American Federation of Musicians. Unlike the British cartoonists’ work, which invariably centres on the human figures involved, it is pointedly satirical of the anti-human nature of the machinery. Cupid’s harp (emblem of the movies’ desire to be seen as an art form) is wrecked, and the terrier parodies the mascot for His Master’s Voice. The yowling mutt turns its back on the cranky apparatus, whereas in the famous company logo a serene Nipper focuses lovingly on the gramophone horn. 

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The Musicians’ Journal, New Series 5 (April 1930)

Returning to its battle against unfair competition from Army Bands, the Journal here directed its fire at no less a person than Tom Shaw, Secretary for War in Ramsay MacDonald’s second Labour Government. In a blistering attack on him and Manny Shinwell (Financial Secretary to the War Office) it presented persuasive evidence of serial engagements of Forces Bands in seaside resorts and accused the ministers of evading a major social issue while 4,000 civilian musicians were out of work.

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The Musicians’ Journal, New Series 7 (October 1930)

This cartoon first appeared in the Glasgow Evening News. It reflected the fears of some Musicians’ Union writers about the possible cultural impact of Hollywood talkies on British audiences. One drew attention to the prospect that audiences would have musical tastes forced on them by film companies, whereas a resident orchestra could respond to local tastes. Worse, the children of England might perhaps learn to speak with an American accent and abandon their own “homely and honest” dialects.

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‘Moresque’ wallpaper designed by Owen Jones

Registered by John Trumble & Co on 23 June 1858. BT 43/97/114049. The principles of design set out by Pugin were taken up by the design reform movement based around the Government School of Design in South Kensington. A key figure in the movement was Owen Jones. Jones travelled widely, researching different styles of design which were brought together and categorised in his hugely influential book The Grammar of Ornament, published in 1856. He was particularly inspired by Islamic design, as can be seen in this wallpaper, and led the way in the nineteenth century revival of what was termed the Moorish style in architecture and decoration.

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