Zoë Thomas
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Out of the guild hall and into the city
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This final chapter considers how women art workers’ engagement in the Arts and Crafts was influenced by the changing context of modern society: of suffrage, a world at war, and the build-up of frustrations at the lack of opportunities at the Guild Hall. Disagreements about how artistic women should perform their professional roles had raged across society since the late nineteenth century, but debates reached a head in the early twentieth century. There was a rupture in opinions between women art workers about the best strategies for public and private representation, the meaning of artistic equality, and the implications of suffrage militancy on gender relations. The chapter then discusses the effect of the First World War in further reshaping the priorities of women art workers. The war brought about a surprising range of professional, commercial, medical, and philanthropic opportunities, but also ushered in a more nationalistic framing to the Arts and Crafts. Ultimately, the combined effects of suffrage and war led to an irrevocable shift in the mind-sets of many women art workers, which took them further away from the Hall and into the city, to the exhibitions, events, and spaces more receptive to their social, political, and cultural agendas.

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