V&A to show how Morris and Ruskin inspired world's artists

After blockbuster art deco and art nouveau shows, the Victoria & Albert museum in London is to stage the country's most comprehensive exhibition on the Arts and Crafts movement started by John Ruskin and William Morris.

After blockbuster art deco and art nouveau shows, the Victoria & Albert museum in London is to stage the country's most comprehensive exhibition on the Arts and Crafts movement started by John Ruskin and William Morris.

The exhibition will not just concentrate on British Arts and Crafts, but also show how the style was reinterpreted in countries from America to Japan as the first British design movement to become a worldwide phenomenon.

Next year's display will feature more than 300 Arts and Crafts objects, from simple folk craft to sophisticated objects made for wealthy patrons, all inspired by the movement's founding principles of integrating art into everyday life and raising the status of the craftsman. It also advocated social reform through improved workshop conditions and a return to a simpler way of life.

Announcing plans for the exhibition yesterday, Mark Jones, the V&A's director, said that it was a movement that had proved important in the development of modernism. He added: "It resonates with a lot of contemporary concerns about the way in which things are made, about the ethics of production and the relationship between the maker and the consumer."

The Arts and Crafts movement flourished in Britain in the 1880s, promoted by Ruskin, the great Victorian thinker and writer, and Morris, a craftsman and designer renowned for his inspiration from nature, as most clearly demonstrated in the Red House, his home in south-east London.

But while the notion of a simple country life was one example of the Arts and Crafts ideal, espoused by communities established in places such as the Cotswolds and the Lake District, the movement also had a strong urban base and aimed to influence industrial design and manufacture.

Its ideas spread to America from 1890 to 1916, and continental Europe and Scandinavia between about 1880 and 1914, before its final manifestation in the Mingei (Folk Craft) movement in Japan between 1926 and 1945, where the British potter Bernard Leach was a key figure.

In one of the expected highlights of the exhibition, four rooms will be recreated in the museum to illustrate the way different countries interpreted the Arts and Crafts ideals.

Two of the rooms will show the contrasting urban and rural interpretations in Britain, another will focus on America and the final room will recreate a Japanese Arts and Crafts pavilion that had until recently been thought demolished. When Karen Livingstone and Rupert Faulkner, both V&A curators, went to Japan to research next year's exhibition, they discovered that an architectural historian, Dr Tomoo Kawashima, had rediscovered the original building, and its contents were intact in a museum in Kyoto.

Ms Livingstone said: "It was a complete revelation of what the Japanese Folk Craft movement was. When we discovered that so many of the objects had survived, we knew then that we could do a really accurate reconstruction of this important Mingei room."

The Arts and Crafts show will run from 17 March to 24 July and will then tour abroad, as did the earlier Art Deco and Art Nouveau exhibitions, which were eventually seen by about a million visitors.

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