We've just installed our latest joint display with Library & Learning Resources in the showcase at the bottom of the main stairs in Parkside. The idea for this exhibition developed from a visit to the Archives almost two months ago by a group of Level 5 students who'd been asked to design costumes for characters from one of Chaucer's late 14th-century Canterbury Tales, supposedly told by an ill-assorted bunch of pilgrims journeying from London to visit the shrine of St Thomas in Canterbury. While they were here, they looked for inspiration for their designs amongst the studies of historical dress and the cartoons for stained glass panels in the School of Art's archive.
As they continue work on their designs, we've put together a display that focuses on the strong revival of interest in the medieval period during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Cultural historians expressed an interest in accounts of medieval manners and customs; poets and novelists drew inspiration from tales of chivalry and the songs of the troubadours; and the Pre-Raphaelites produced numerous paintings of medieval damsels and knights on quests. The illustration above is taken from a 19th-century history by Paul Lacroix, a French author who wrote Romantic historical novels as well as more serious works on social customs.
The influence of such medievalism on the work of Birmingham School of Art during this period can be seen in two stained glass cartoons by Florence Camm, each featuring one of the characters mentioned in the Canterbury Tales - a friar and a knight. We've also included an edition of The Prologue to Chaucer's work that was produced in Birmingham School of Printing in 1949.
Why not come along to see the exhibition? It might give you some ideas for your own work.