ENLIVENING A VARIETY OE OBIECTS, THE ARTIST CREATES IDEAS FOR INDUSTRY DUNCAN GRANT experiments ever made in this country was the found ing of the Omega Workshops in Fitzroy Street by Roger Fry. His idea was to make use of the hundreds of ideas that are thrown out by the burgeoning imagination of an artist and which, in the ordinary course, are recorded only in the form of pencil notes, never carried to fruition, and presently lost. For the young artist his Workshops offered a regular working wage in return for as many days' work a week as he wished to bind himself to give. Roger Fry himself, a man of creative ability, directed the work of these artists, whose ideas became his pro perty, into practical channels. He had the power which few manufacturers' buyers possessof seeing the commercial possibilities of an artist's rough sug gestion, and the way in which it could be applied to the production of good-selling articles. His Work shops produced fabrics, furniture, pottery, and under took interior decoration. This was the first attempt, in any country, since the beginning of the modern movement in painting, to turn the artist's powers into the service of industry. The modern movement in art alone made it possible to obtain the feeling of direct hand work through pro viding the machine with designs adapted to its methods of reproduction. If the War had not crushed this enterprise in its early stages the benefits to British trade would already be appreciated. As it was, the influence of Roger Fry's ideas has 183 largely passed to other countries. Those Scan dinavian and European firms which recognized the value of his idea and put it into practice in their own works are now known as leaders in the field of design, and in this country our most successful attempts to pro duce something typical of the century are imitations of their work. Even here, however, Roger Fry's influence has been extraordinarily lasting. It has worked only indirectly, but what we know to-day of modern art is due to him. One saw imitations of the kind of work which the Omega Workshops produced almost immediately after their success was apparent. But the movement went no further; the War interrupted it and it has not been revived. Manufacturers still prefer to keep a workingdesigner whose job is to botch up something whichto his employerslooks like the work of some prominent artist, or to combine the elements which appeal to his employers out of two or three popular, but completely unrelated, styles. The manufacturer's reason for employing his own work men rather than an independent artist is always the same. Artists don't understand his job, and the technicalities of production. They are unpractical and a nuisance. It is much more satisfactory (and cheaper) to keep a man who can turn out something which can be put through the works as it stands than to go to an outsider whose ideas need to be modified before they can be used. Naturally every man, from Noah onwards, has liked to refer profoundly to the mysteries of his craft, but as a matter of fact any artist worthy of his name is only too anxious to understand the technical processes which will affect his design. He is accustomed to study the nature of a medium before he attempts to express his ideas through it. In any case the processes of produc tion which have any vital bearing on his share of the work are generally very few, and his difficulty is that the men who could give him the necessary information are least ready to do so. This defence of his "craft knowledge has always been iii a conversation with the Editor recalls interesting memories of the Omega Workshops, a courageous venture of the late Roger Fry, and expresses his views as to how the artist can enliven all the products of industry. ONE OF THE MOST INTERESTING AND FAR-REACHING C2

Industrial Arts en | 1936 | | page 23