The Society of Arts and the Encouragement of Mineralogy and Geology 1754-1900

On 9th November 2017 I will be contributing to an all day conference, organised jointly between the William Shipley Group for RSA History and the History of Geology Group at the Geological Society.   I will open the meeting with a brief overview of the Society’s encouragement of these new earth sciences through its members, awards and lecture programme.   For fuller details and booking information see here


Royal Designers for Industry represented at the 1946 Britain Can Make It exhibition.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the 1946 Britain Can Make It exhibition the University of Brighton Design Archives has provided an online version of the catalogue. On behalf of the William Shipley Group for RSA History, I have provided this online resource on the RDIs represented at Britain Can Make It exhibition, to complement the digitised catalogue.

Talk: The Royal Designers for Industry and Liberty at Fashion and Textile Museum on 23rd October 2015

Liberty storeThe RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) has a long association with Liberty London. Susan Bennett traces the influence of the RSA, the department store and its founder in sharing powerful ideas about design and cutting-edge research.

In 1883, Arthur Lasenby Liberty was elected a member of the then Society of Arts where he played an influential role in sharing ideas on contemporary design. Liberty was represented on the Society’s powerful Applied Art Section Committee, with G.F. Bodley, Walter Crane, Sir Thomas Wardle and Cyril Davenport, among others. The talk touches on Arthur Lasenby Liberty’s research into ‘The Industrial Arts and Manufactures of Japan’ (1890), ‘English Furniture’ (1900) and ‘Pewter and the Revival of its Use’, plus his contribution to the discussion of ‘The Design and Architectural Treatment of the Shop’ in 1913.

Liberty London has also collaborated with some of the RSA’s Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry including C.F. Voysey, Lucienne Day and Vivienne Westwood. The title ‘Royal Designer for Industry’ (RDI) is the highest accolade for designers in the UK and is awarded annually by the RSA to designers of all disciplines who have achieved ‘sustained design excellence, work of aesthetic value and significant benefit to society. Lucienne Day was approached by Liberty’s to design a linen dress fabric to celebrate the Queen’s coronation in 1953 – Tudor (also known as Coronation) Rose and the following year Liberty’s commissioned the furnishing fabric design ‘Fritillary’. The talk will be illustrated with examples of the RDI designs that have featured in the store.

Talk is free but requires entrance ticket to exhibition.