Schooling Good Taste, Coalbrookdale School of Art 1856-1924

The mid-Victorian period was the age of imitation and reproduction. Every style from naturalism to Gothic and classicism was revived in art, furnishings, metalwork and ceramics. Displays at the Great Exhibition of 1851 showcased these styles in a staggering array of objects, and British entries proved successful. However, the design of many British products drew criticism when compared with those of other countries, and the lowering of standards was blamed on ‘uneducated’ designers and the mass production of goods. Calls for an improvement in design education resulted in the creation of new schools to teach art and design specifically for manufacturing purposes. It was perhaps this, as well as the long tradition of skilled work in the Ironbridge Gorge, which led to the opening of a School of Art in Coalbrookdale in 1856.

This online exhibition showcases pieces from the Schooling Good Taste exhibition currently on display in the Coalbrookdale Gallery. The exhibition features original design material and artwork created by the students, some of which were submitted for examination, whilst others were used to inspire products made by local industries and to demonstrate different styles and techniques.

school of art