Fashioning church interiors: the importance of female amateur designers

Cheshire, Jim (2015) Fashioning church interiors: the importance of female amateur designers. In: Material religion in modern Britain. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137540553


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From the 1840s a small army of amateur ecclesiastical designers and makers adorned churches. On an ephemeral level this could mean seasonal decorations but many were more ambitious and made permanent furnishings for ecclesiastical interiors: stained glass windows, pulpits, fonts, architectural sculpture and painted panels. While it is tempting to dismiss amateur designers and makers as eccentric hobbyists, a strong case can be constructed to suggest that they were driven by positive ethical and religious agendas. This chapter redresses historians’ neglect of the social and cultural significance of the work of amateurs. The considerable effort needed to learn skills and manipulate difficult materials suggests that this activity was of great importance to the makers: historians need to pay more attention to why people bothered. The fact that women were prominent among amateur designers raises important questions about gender and religious practice and highlights the unique opportunities that ecclesiastical design offered to women as artists. The story of amateur ecclesiastical design offers the chance to reconsider the roots of design movements that are discussed largely in secular terms; both Aestheticism and the Arts and Crafts movement have important cultural precedents in the activities of amateur ecclesiastical designers.

Keywords:Victorian religion, Stained glass, Gothic Revival, Ecclesiology, Architectural History, bmjconvert
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V350 History of Art
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V370 History of Design
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V144 Modern History 1800-1899
W Creative Arts and Design > W770 Glass Crafts
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V210 British History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V360 History of Architecture
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (Heritage)
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ID Code:18861
Deposited On:28 Sep 2015 10:02

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