The Handicraft Unit at Loughborough University

Back

Loughborough has a unique and interesting history whereby today’s internationally recognised Design School emerged from a commitment to inviting leading craftsmen from ‘the Cotswold School’ to train students in furniture making.

The ‘Handicraft Unit’, as it was then known, required its students to set aside time each week to work under two of the most famous proponents of the Cotswold School, firstly Peter Waals and later Edward Barnsley. They produced functional items that were used by the students and as a result the university now has a rich collection of furniture of museum quality. The most visible example of this was the bedroom sets that were made for each college bedroom. These consisted of a chest of drawers, wardrobe, book case and chairs that often had the individual student’s initials carved into them. While the university is committed to retaining key items from the collection it has a surplus of bedroom sets and chairs which are to be sold off as part of an online auction. The pieces for auction can be viewed online here.

To coincide with this auction and to further celebrate this interesting history, LU Arts are working with Jennifer Clark, University Archivist, to organise an exhibition in Martin Hall Exhibition Space of some of the fascinating material that records this time in the university history, upon which its motto ‘training through production’ originated.

LU Arts has also commissioned artist Giles Round to re-design its offices, taking inspiration from the archive material as well as incorporating items from the collection itself.

The exhibition runs from Friday 8th September until Friday 13th October, entry is free.

The Handicraft Unit at Loughborough University map