Art & Artists in Exhibition: Vancouver 1890 - 1950
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"The B.C. Art League"

Western Woman's Weekly - July 23, 1921

The B.C. Art League has justified its existence more than once recently for although hardly out of its infancy it has begun to make its influence felt by the very able lecturers which have been arranged from time to time unders its auspices.

The meeting in the Technical School Auditorium on Thursday evening last was enriched by a lecture from Mr. Kyle who, for an hour well spent, kept his hearers interested in the life and art of William Morris, Craftsman. Mr. G. H. Cowan, K.C., introduced the speaker of the evening in a few well-chosen words and thought the time was ripe for the "largest city of its age in the world" to turn its thoughts seriously to the development of an "art bent".

In the course of Mr. Kyle's address he showed Morris to have been a revivalist of the purer art of mediaeval times, which had counteracted a perhaps too florid tendency in the Victorian style of his day. It was pointed out that the consummate art of Morris and his associates Rosetti, Edmund Street, Burns Jones, etc., all made an ineffacable impression upon the Victorian period and will, in the minds of posterity, no doubt redeem that period from the mere mediocrity of antimacassars, gilded mirror frames, glass embellished chandeliers and over-crowded "with drawing rooms" which, too often, are looked upon as representative of this period.

A human touch was introduced by the lecturer when he told of Morris' famous blue shirt, which he wore as himself being a craftsman in his own enterprises; and also when he went on to tell of how this wonderful artist first taught himself the crafts which he afterwards was able to teach to his workers in the production of the objects which have beautified and enriched the homes of England. One could not help feeling, what Mr. Bursill has already said, how a man of Morris' vision would revel in the natural resources of this wonderful British Columbia, and surely produce out of the raw material a beauty which would be peculiarly and distinctively her own. There is in Victoria a lady who has started a "drawing room industry" in the manufacture of woven articles. Would it not be a splendid thing if, on the mainland, too, we had a few of our talents unearthed in this way, and brought to some purpose to serve our generation? In the Western Woman's Weekly we have had several chapters recently on the Home Beautiful. If some of our organizations who were so efficiently equipped to work during the war would take the matter in hand, we might have "Drawing room" and "Cottage" industries here in B.C. that would make our products famous world-wide after a while, and beautify our homes with the native resources of our country. Lace-making, embroidery - this was how the Countess of Limerick's Cottage Industries sprang into being, which gave so much employment to the women who must stay at home - weaving and home-spinning, the making of rustic furniture, even pottery - and other industries would crop up from time to time. Then we would have achieved William Morris' ideal that "Art is joy in labor," and that the ultimate bourne is "Leisure for everybody" and "work for all".

The B.C. Art League now has a membership of 280 and has got to that stage where its own impetus will take it further along its chosen path of services.