Zoë Thomas
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Clubhouses and guild halls
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Chapter 1 begins by exploring how the male-only Art Workers’ Guild claimed cultural authority from the Guild’s 1884 foundation; understanding their strategies is crucial in unpacking the relational dynamics between women and men in the movement. The chapter then offers the first comprehensive account of the Arts and Crafts networks that were formed at women’s art groups such as the ’91 Art Club, the Arts and Crafts Board at the Lyceum Club, and the Women’s Guild of Arts. These groups complicate the master narrative of the steady feminisation of public life as the central goal for women during this era. For those identifying as ‘serious’ art workers, it was increasingly not simply the ‘public sphere’ they specifically aspired to gain access to but was, in fact, the ‘private sphere’ of the secretive, higher echelons of the male-oriented art world, represented and sustained by intellectually driven meetings at Clifford’s Inn, and from 1914 at 6 Queen Square, Bloomsbury. In particular, the chapter explores the Women’s Guild of Arts’ infiltration of the same Hall for its own meetings from 1907, arguing this constituted a key strategy of self-actualisation in women art workers’ quest for formal recognition in the Arts and Crafts movement.

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