The Exhibitions & Examples of Work

Gerry Tidy

The text below appeared in an article in The Befordshire Times and Independent Friday June 24th 1910.

“A few words about the exhibition. The metal work is done in copper, brass, pewter, and iron (with often a mixture of metals which has a pleasing effect), and there is a certain amount of garnishing with stones and mother-of-pearl. The forge and anvil are used for wrought iron work, but the appliances are now extensive or expensive. The designs are worked out, for the most part, in repoussé, and there were exhibited a great number of beautiful jogs and flagons and such articles as ink-pots, blotter-covers, tea-caddies, photo frames, candlesticks, a shaving-box, breakfast stand, name-plates for doors, letter boxes, knockers for both front-doors and bedroom doors, lamp brackets, electric light fittings, rose bowls, flower vases, and plaques beautifully designed, one giving a splendid presentment of the Royal Arms. All these objects had the appearance of solid worth both in design and workmanship, as Mr. Witter makes a study of the chief art collections, and no doubt carefully selects his designs. Some of the work is very massive. For example, there is a very noble mantel piece in brass and steel. R. Witter is an authority on Church ornament, and in both metal and needlework there are some beautiful objects for ecclesiastical use. An altar cloth, with raised points and inlaid with other-of-pearl, is much in demand.

The needlework is very various, but several of the examples shown were heirlooms and treasures which had been sent to the School for repair. One of these was a magnificent hand-woven piece of tapestry. The old flags of Chelsea Hospital have been entrusted to this School for the same purpose, and a quilt came from the Duchess of Rutland. We can only briefly note that we saw, as representing the work of the School, delightful specimens of tent or cross stitch embroidery for the seats and backs of chairs; a good deal of applique work for book and blotter covers, ? work and Florentine embroidery, richly embroidered curtains, four pairs of which have been made to order, chalice veil, altar cloths and stoles, most beautifully designed and finished; a quaint bed quilt copied from one made in the reign of Charles II, for the bed of the French Ambassador at his visit for the ratification of peace, part of the design showing the dove bearing the olive leaf; table centre from a Tudor pattern, some delightful tent stitch work in silk, and others too numerous to specify. Of piquant interest were the unique specimens of “stump” work of the Stuart period, sent to the School to be restored. The figures in this form of ornamentation are padded out into relief and dressed like little dolls, and the panels depict scriptural subjects, such as Abraham about to sacrifice his son, Rebekah at the well, and the little figures, even to the camels and the fig trees and the angel in the clouds, are most quaintly represented. The work of copying or restoring these figures is one of great delicacy and skill.

A certain amount of leather work is successfully done. This takes the form of covers for pocket books, golf scoring books, blotters and purses. Noteworthy, too, is the handsome screen of lacquer leather work in the old Spanish and Italian style.”

Wood carving is not neglected, and the School has just produced a reredos and table for Gravenhurst Church, and other articles have been supplied for Barton Church, and a centenary commemoration clock for the School in that parish.

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