Art Workers Guild
The Art Workers' Guild is an organisation established in 1884 by a group of British architects associated with the ideas of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement. The guild promoted the 'unity of all the arts', denying the distinction between fine and applied art. It opposed the professionalisation of architecture – which was promoted by the Royal Institute of British Architects at this time – in the belief that this would inhibit design.
The founders of the Guild were five young architects from Norman Shaw's office: W.R. Lethaby, Edward Prior, Ernest Newton, Mervyn Macartney and Gerald C. Horsley. Its first master was the sculptor, George Blackall Simonds; its second master was John Dando Sedding. Among its members was Henry Bird.
The Art Workers Guild gave rise to the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society.
The Guild was originally a male only organization, leading May Morris to start the Women’s Guild of Arts in 1907 as an alternative for women. It was not until the 1960s that women were admitted, starting with the wood engraver Joan Hassall who became the first female Master in 1972.
The Guild is today a society of artists, craftsmen and designers with a common interest in the interaction, development and distribution of creative skills. They represent a variety of views on design and stand for authenticity (irrespective of political and stylistic ideology) in a world increasingly uncertain about what is real. Founded originally by the leading lights of the Arts and Crafts movement in the 1890s, many of its current members uphold long-established traditions of workmanship and a desire to contribute to the community. The Guild believes that art, craft and design should be invigorating and positive in outlook, at a time when much art remains alienating and self-indulgent. These principles are manifest in the individual work of the members and are spread through teaching, research, publication and exhibitions.
 Further reading
- J. L. J. Masse, The Art-Workers Guild 1884-1934
- "Art Workers Guild". Official website of the Guild. Archived from the original on 24 October 2005. Retrieved October 17, 2005.
- Gavin Stamp. "A Hundred Years of the Art Workers Guild". Retrieved March 10, 2013.
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