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The Central Saint Martins Museum and Study Collection

Introduction

The main purpose of the Museum and Study Collection is to collect and care for material on the history of Central Saint Martins and its founding colleges, St Martin’s School of Art and the Central School of Arts and Crafts/Design and to make it accessible for research and study.


The core of the collection is the Teaching Examples Collection which was established by W.R. Lethaby, the founding principal of the Central School of Arts and Crafts, in 1896. It consists of early printed books, prints, illuminated manuscripts and artefacts used in teaching in the early days of the Central School, as well as work and publications by members of the Arts and Crafts Movement, such as May Morris, Edward Johnston, Eric Gill, and Lethaby himself. Collections added at a later date include 1920s German film posters, Japanese prints, wood engravings, books printed and bound in the School of Book Production, and the textile collection of guard books, wallpaper sample books, textile samples and garments.

 

Click here to see a larger version of this image
Click here to see a larger version of this image There is a large collection of books on all subjects taught at the original Central School which is particularly rich in visual material The archive of papers, books, photographs, newspaper cuttings and prospectuses relating to the history of the college and individual alumni, is a valuable source of background material.
W. R. Lethaby (1857-1931) Click here to see a larger version of this image
The collection is particularly strong in works by W.R. Lethaby, the founding principal of the Central School of Arts and Crafts, designer, architect and educationalist. It includes letters, drawings and watercolours and a collection of his published writings.
pic_7.jpg (76382 bytes) Textiles
Due to a number of generous donations there is a large collection of textiles. The Joyce Clissold collection of block-printed textiles includes textile lengths, garments, samples, swatches, blocks, dye ledgers and designs on paper. Joyce Clissold was a Central School student and owner of Footprints design studio during its most prolific period, 1929-1940. Other textile designers represented are Colleen Farr, Mary Harper, Diana Armfield, Mary Oliver, Eileen Ellis, and Marianne Straub.
School of Book Production pic_6.jpg (166882 bytes)
In 1916 The Studio was able to report of the Central School: ‘A book can be produced in its studios and work rooms complete in every respect - printing, illustration and binding’. The printing classes at the Central School benefited from the experience of the private presses. J.H. Mason, the Head of the School of Book Production, from 1905 to had been chief compositor at the Doves Press and was responsible for the high quality of typesetting in the college. Douglas Cockerell established the first bookbinding classes in 1897. Both men were very influential in the revival of their particular crafts both in the U.K. and on the continent. There is a substantial collection of books printed and bound in the College
Fine Arts, Prints and Drawings
The Print Collection has a variety of items in a wide range of media. It includes a substantial number of early printed sheets from books such as the Nuremberg Chronicle and early woodcuts by Durer. It includes work by Edmund Blampied, Cecil Collins, Enid Marx, Eduardo Paolozzi and Norman Ackroyd. The drawings collection includes work by cartoonists such as Posy Simmonds and by fine art and graphic artists such as Bernard Meninsky, Hans Tisdall, Morris Kestelman and Phyllis Ginger. There is a collection of illustrated books which reflect the importance of book illustration as a subject in both founding colleges.
Wood Engraving Click here to see a larger version of this image
Noel Rooke who taught at the Central School from 1905 was responsible for the revival of the art of wood engraving and had tremendous influence, particularly on book illustration. Among Rooke’s pupils represented in the collection are John Farleigh, Robert Gibbings, Margaret Pilkington and Vivien Gribble. There is also work by later wood engravers such as Monica Poole, Blair Hughes-Stanton, John Lawrence, John O’Connor and Simon Brett.
Theatre Costume Design
Costume design was one of the most important aspects of the original Theatre Design Course at the Central School and still continues to be taught. There is a substantial collection of work by costume designers for the theatre, film and television including Jeannetta Cochrane, Pegaret Anthony, Sheila Jackson, Alix Stone, Norah Waugh and Margaret Woodward.
German Film Posters Click here to see a larger version of this image
The German film posters held in the collection relate to a small number of silent films produced in Berlin by UFA during the early 1920s. They reflect a period of exciting and critical development in both the design and film world during the 1920s. As such it must have played an important role as part of the study collection in an art school with a particular interest in both graphic art and design. Although we do not know how the posters were acquired for the collection there is evidence of many contacts between the School and Germany in the interwar period.
Click here to see a larger version of this image The Japanese Print Collection
The Japanese prints were purchased by Lethaby for the Teaching Examples Collection in the period 1899-1904 when Frank Morley Fletcher introduced Japanese wood-block printing methods into his printmaking classes at the Central School.
The Collection consists of individual wood block prints and several albums depicting children’s games, flora and fauna and actor prints. They date from the late 18th to mid 19th century. The collection is particularly rich in the highly stylised images of the Kabuki theatre. They were used to decorate the entrance hall of the original Central School building
Teaching Books pic_10.jpg (45034 bytes)
The collection of books has always been an important part of the Teaching Examples Collection. The range of titles is wide with all subject areas taught in the original Central School represented. The collection is particularly rich in natural history, architecture, textiles and early printed books and portfolios of design examples. Lethaby advocated the use of good examples from books in the absence of the opportunity to study from life.

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