Masterclasses in Sitting, High Wycombe, April 17th 2015

150317 chairs for arching pt2e

RFS members are invited to attend a free series of presentations by manufacturers, designers and historians to discuss High Wycombe’s famous history of bodging and the Windsor Chair.

Masterclasses in Sitting is a commission for the new Wye Dene development in High Wycombe. Taking as the starting point High Wycombe’s rich history as the centre for furniture production, public works proposes a project which uses ‘sitting’ as a way of relating. Connecting the new Wye Dene estate with High Wycombe, its past and future.

The talks will take place on  17th April 2015, 6pm at the Wrights Meadow Centre, Wrights Meadow Road Wycombe Marsh, High Wycombe, HP11 1SQ . No RSVP is needed, the event is free.
About the Speakers:
Speakers on the evening will be furniture historian Dr Bernard ‘Bill’ Cotton, artist craftsman Stuart King and professor in furniture Jake Kaner. Each will be giving a short presentation on them will be reflecting on the Chair industry the Windsor Chair in particular. public works will use the opportunity to discuss the proposal for the forthcoming Chair arch for High Wycombe 
Dr Bernard ‘Bill’ Cotton is a furniture historian who has pioneered the study of vernacular furniture in both the UK and in Countries where the British settled. He has travelled widely, often with his wife Gerry, to record the regional traditions of furniture made for the homes of working people , over a forty year period. His extensive archive is a major resource of design and social history information and his collection of some four hundred English regional chairs is now gifted to the Geffrye museum. His published work includes ‘The English Regional Chair’ (ACC. 1990 ).   More recently he has completed his major work  ‘Scottish Vernacular Furniture’ (Thames and Hudson. 2008  ) which for the first time identifies the chair and other furniture designs made there.
He was co founder, with Christopher Gilbert, of the Regional Furniture Society and is presently the society’s Emeritus President.
Jake Kaner is professor in furniture at Bucks New University. He has been involved with documenting the furniture industry through the curation of the High Wycombe Furniture Archive. Funding awarded form the arts and humanities research council supported the digitisation project which captured 16,000 images and text from the archive. The material covers the High Wycombe manufacturers, Ercol, Gomme (G-Plan) and Skull. The website that disseminates the material has been highly successful receiving an average of 100,000 hits per month since its launch in 2009. Currently Jake is working to digitise the William Birch archive in partnership with the Wycombe Museum. This material illustrates design books for art furniture that was made for Liberty’s of London between 1890 and 1910. A further project involving the designs of Ib Kofod-Larsen, a Danish designer who worked for G-Plan in the 1960s, involves creating computer based models of furniture that was never put into production.  Jake is also a trustee for Wycombe Heritage and Arts Trust.
Stuart King was born in the Buckinghamshire village of Holmer Green in 1942, and played as a child in the local Beech woods. The countryside and the trades and traditions of those that shaped it over centuries have always fascinated him and influenced his work.
Stuart spent a lifetime researching, recording and collecting anything about the rural past and today is recognised as a well-known artist craftsman, demonstrator, international lecturer and photo-journalist. He is still actively recording traditional crafts, local landscape and history via photography and video and occasionally appears on TV.

Exhibition: An Abiding Standard, Royal Academy of Arts, 25th February – 24th May

241. "The Chair Maker", engraving, 1944 [215 x 154 mm] Private Collection. © Stanley Anderson Estate

241. “The Chair Maker”, engraving, 1944 [215 x 154 mm] Private Collection. © Stanley Anderson Estate

Stanley Anderson RA (1884-1960) was a key figure in the revival of engraving in the 1920s, best known for his series of prints depicting England’s vanishing rural crafts. ‘The Chair Maker’, very probably of Jack Goodchild, one of the last of the Chiltern makers, is typical of his work to be shown in an exhibition, An Abiding Standard, at the Royal Academy of Arts, running from 25th February – 24th. May. For more information see the RA website here.
Admission is £3, or free to holders of tickets to other current exhibitions at the RA including the magnificent Rubens show. A catalogue raisonne will be published to coincide with the exhibition.

Events for Spring 2015 and AGM and Conference Details

Ahead of the publication of the Spring Newsletter, details of some the upcoming RFS events are now available on the Events page.

In April members have been invited to visit Tim Phelps Fine Furniture Restoration workshop and the Research in Progress event will take place at Ripon College Cuddesdon, near Oxford in May.

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Arrangements for the AGM and conference are underway and the particulars can be seen in full here: Conference and AGM 2015. Please note that the conference will take place on the first weekend in July – slightly earlier than usual.

As usual, please direct any enquiries or bookings to the Events Officer – events.rfs@gmail.com or use the online form here.

A Trinity of Trinities

RFS members who attended the July conference will recall the almshouses at Castle Rising which miraculously retain their original furniture. They were built by Henry Howard Earl of Northampton, an antiquarian with an interest in architectural design, who was a key figure at the heart of the Jacobean establishment and who brokered James VI of Scotland’s succession to the throne of England.
The December 10th edition of Country Life magazine includes an article A Trinity of Trinities. This year three historic almshouses  celebrate the 400th anniversary of their founders death. John Goodall explains the origins of their creation. 

Volunteer Opportunity: Furniture Department at the V&A

The Furniture Department of the V&A  is looking for a long-term volunteer willing to assist on a regular basis with the ongoing, computer-based work of documenting the Furniture collection: scanning and transcribing written records, editing digital images, and adding them to the Museum’s databases, under supervision in the Furniture department offices at the Museum.

If you are interested in this role please contact Nick Humphrey: nickhu@vam.ac.uk / 0207 942 2436

Newsletter research articles – a complete list

Christopher Claxton Stevens has assiduously recorded every research article published in the RFS Newsletter since the first issue in 1985. This not only provides the Society with a comprehensive list of the shorter articles that have been produced over the years, but also a very useful finding aid for those accessing the Newsletter via public library collections. You can see the list here: Newsletter research articles.

Many thanks to Christopher for all his hard work in producing this document and very impressive to see the depth and diversity of RFS research over the years.