Collection

KSIA Platter

Collection:

Category: Metal

Date: c.1900

Designer: Attributed to Harold Stabler

Nationality of Designer: English

Manufacturer: Keswick School of Industrial Arts

Manufacturers Location: Keswick, Cumbria (U.K.)

Material: Copper

Dimensions: 36 x 36 x 2.5 cm

Abstract:

Repoussé copper platter with floral design. 

Adaptions/renovations:

None 

Why it's in the Collection:

This platter, like the Ulverston backstool, represents an important part of the Arts and Crafts history in Cumbria. On its rim the initials 'KSIA' are stamped, indicating it was made at the Keswick School of Industrial Arts - perhaps the most important site of Arts and Crafts manufacturing in the Lake District. 

Taking a stylised cornflower pattern, the platter would likely have been made from a design modelled from an antique or one developed by an artist with such antique precedents in mind. Similar metalwork was produced in the 16th and 17th centuries and was represented in collections at the South Kensington Museum (late renamed the Victoria and Albert Museum) used to instruct Arts and Crafts Schools including the KSIA. 

About the Designer/Maker:

Harold Stabler (1872-1945) was born in Levens and attended Kendal School of Art where he trained in metalwork, wood and stone carving. He was apprenticed to Arthur Simpson who ran his own Guild of Handicrafts in Kendal around 1886. Simpson was a prominent producer of Arts and Crafts furniture and would continue to play a central role, along with Stabler, in the Arts and Crafts Movement. In 1898 Edith Rawnsley, one of the founders of the National Trust and a driving force behind the Keswick School of Industrial Art (KSIA), helped ensure Stabler was elected as the new permanent tutor of the KSIA. Stabler would provide creative direction to the school, supplying designs, which subsequently may have travel further afield to schools in Ulverston, Coniston, or Kendal. He would go on the found the Poole Potteries. 

About the Manufacturer:

The Keswick School of Industrial Arts was founded in 1884 by Edith and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley (who also famously also founded the National Trust). The KSIA was initially established as metal repoussé workshop designed to both instruct and promote the work of its craftsman, developing public taste and a market for its products. The School went on to provide free classes in wood carving, drawing, and textile design, intended to ease unemployment by providing attendees with skills that would allow them to experience the conditions of labour aspired to by the Arts and Crafts movements following William Morris. Workers would use their hands. They would experience a close relationship with nature and find joy in high quality craftsmanship and beautiful design. 

Edith Rawnsley herself, who became more involved in school’s activities than her husband, gave the first classes. An emphasis on metal repoussé work - a method of hammering metal over a mould to produce low relief - reflects the recognition that copper has been mined and handled in Cumbria since the Elizabethan era. And like many regional branches of the Arts and Crafts guilds, although united by the ideologies of Ruskin and Morris, the KSIA held a distinctive style that at time deviated from what was en vogue within the movement elsewhere in Britain. 

Herbert J Maryon became the first director around 1900, following the important leadership of Harold Stabler who continued to influence the school after his departure as head tutor. Maryon had been apprenticed to C.R. Ashbee and was assisted by four designers: G.M. Collinson, Isobel McBean, Maude M. Ackery and Dorothea Carpenter. 

The School continued until 1984 until forced to close through lack of funding and a drop in sales.

Bibliography & Further information

The Loving Eye and Skillful Hand: The Keswick School of Industrial Art, Ian Bruce, Bookcase, 2001,

The Arts and Crafts Movement in the Lake District: A Social History, Jennie Brunton, Centre for North-West Regional Studies, University of Lancaster 2001