The Hart Silversmiths: A Living Tradition

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Many artisans choose to live outside of the city, finding the picturesque countryside more conducive to their craft and lifestyle. This tradition goes back generations to the Arts and Crafts Movement (1880 – 1910), inspired by the writing of the architect Augustus Pugin (1812–1852), the writer John Ruskin (1819–1900), and the artist William Morris (1834–1896).

 

Recently, the Compton Verney Art Gallery in England hosted an exhibit called The Hart Silversmiths: A Living Tradition which ran from 27 June 2015 to 13 September 2015. The exhibit explored the evolution of Architect, designer and social reformer Charles Robert Ashbee (1863-1942) who established The Guild of Handicraft in 1888 and initiated a unique living tradition in design and silversmithing.

 

 

Rolling hills of the Cotswolds near Coberley
Rolling hills of the Cotswolds near Coberley

Inspired by the anti-industrialism of the Arts and Crafts Movement, Ashbee believed that good design and craftsmanship required beautiful and inspirational living conditions and therefore in 1902 he and the guildsmen (with their families), moved from London’s East End to the picturesque town of Chipping Campden in Cotswold.

 

 

 

A row of cottages in Bibury, Cotswolds, England
Rolling hills of the Cotswolds near Coberley

One of the guildsmen was silversmith George Henry Hart (1882-1973). Three generations of the Hart family continue to produce bespoke handmade silver in the Arts and Crafts tradition to this day, in the same workshop in Chipping Campden. The exhibition told their remarkable story, bringing together historic and contemporary commissions alongside the spectacular drawings which inspired them.

 

Although the exhibit is over, you can watch this inspiring video to see traditional artisanry taking place today. Lets hope there will be enough commissions and interest in the quality and pleasure of the handmade to keep the HART Gold & Silversmiths (Guild of Handicraft) productive for many generations to come – and many more like them here in Canada!