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New free Exhibition Schooling Good Taste, The Coalbrookdale School of Art, 1856-1924 at Coalbrookdae (13th March 2018)

New free Exhibition Schooling Good Taste, The Coalbrookdale School of Art, 1856-1924 at Coalbrookdae

A new free exhibition at the Coalbrookdale Gallery, adjacent to Enginuity near Ironbridge, will explore the story of the Coalbrookdale School of Art, the artists and the artwork that came out of the school. Opening on Wednesday, 21st March, Schooling Good Taste - The Coalbrookdale School of Art, 1856-1924 can be viewed Monday to Friday between 10am and 5pm, until Friday, 21st December.

The exhibition will showcase original design work and objects from the Coalbrookdale Company, Maw & Co and Craven Dunnill & Co, currently held in the Ironbridge Gorge Museum’s Library and Archives. Themes of style, taste and design movements will explore the broader story of Victorian aesthetics.

Included in the exhibition are several pieces by John Windsor Bradburn, an extremely talented student. Born in Coalbrookdale in 1861, his father was a patternmaker and his grandfather had been a foreman, both at the Coalbrookdale Company. In 1872 at the age of 11, he was sent to the Coalbrookdale School of Art as a day release student by Maw & Co, where he was employed as a trainee draughtsman. In later years Bradburn was involved in several large scale projects undertaken by Maw & Co., including producing floor tiles for the Marriage Pavilion in Mysore Palace, India

A key exhibit is the Roll of Honour for the school. This beautiful document details students from the Coalbrookdale School of Art who received prizes for their work. The students’ work was examined locally and the winning pieces then sent to the National Art Training School in South Kensington, London, where they were judged alongside artwork from students who attended other Schools of Art. The idea to establish training schools to specifically learn art and design for manufacturing purposes was born in 1836. By 1879 there were 675 art schools in England instructing some 5000 pupils.

In 1924 Shropshire County Council bought the School of Art building. A new committee of management was formed consisting of local authority representative and employers and employees of the iron, tile and china industries.

The School of Art continued to train students, such as Frederick Harris, who started work at Craven Dunnill & Co in the early 1920s as a clerk, and then went into the Art Department, painting and decorating tiles. Craven Dunnill paid for him to attend art classes at the Coalbrookdale School of Art. He worked on tiles for Bristol Temple Meads Station (for the Great Western railway in the 1930s) and for the Godalming Co-operative Society. The daffodil image was drawn in 1934, and the actual tiles of this design can be seen on display in Jackfield Tile Museum

The Coalbrookdale School of Art was accredited by the National Art Training School at South Kensington. Now owned by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, the building is home to YHA Coalbrookdale.

For further information, contact the Ironbridge Tourist Information Centre on Tel: 01952 433 424 or visit The Gorge is easily reached via the M6 and M54 motorways exiting at Telford (M54 junction 4 or 6).