Studio: international art — 17.1899

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The National Competition

The national competi-

The retirement of Mr. Walter Crane
from the post of Principal of the Royal College
of Art was current news at the opening of the
annual show of works sent up for the National
Competition. It would have been unreasonable to
expect even such a revolutionist to do much in a
single year of office towards unravelling the ancient
tangles of red tape in which the work of the
Science and Art Department is proverbially bound
up. But his resignation is a matter for regret, even
though it can hardly affect his influence in the field
of art education.

Neither Mr. Crane nor any other of those who
stand for aesthetic reform could fail to be encou-
raged by the work now being done in. English
schools. Whatever be its omissions, there is at
least the element of progress in the exhibition so
unceremoniously thrown together as a summer side-
show to that ill-digested mass of industrial curios
by which modern science is represented in the sheds
of the South Kensington Museum. Both from the
Royal College of Art and from provincial centres

come achievements of real interest and merit, in
transcripts from art and life, and in the more crucial
tasks of design. The pervading spirit is one of
sincerity and courage, enabling many students to
break fresh ground in beautiful invention without
losing the scholarly qualities of patience and care.

A general criticism may be made of the lack of
enterprise towards the designing of commonly use-
ful things. We feel it natural to apply decoration
to articles of luxury—the furniture of the salon,
jewellery, and the instruments of music, and other
sensuous delights. But we have not reached that
stage of culture in which it seems more natural, and
much more necessary, to beautify the objects of
daily use and need. In textiles there is a tendency
to over-much pattern, as though a piece of plain
colour were not just as valuable an element in
design. Jewellery and table-service afford a very
popular section. The larger kinds of architectural
and metal-work, which the examiners in a bold flight
of definition refer to as “iron gates and such-like,”
have not been widely attempted. Ecclesiastical
furniture also seems rather out of favour with the
schools. Considering the fine and delicate appre-
ciation of symbolism shown by many students, it
is remarkable that they so rarely seem to carry it
forward into ritual.

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