Exploring The Craft Movement:
Jessie Bayes (1876-1970)
In conjunction with the Craft Invitational exhibition, we invite you to explore some of the Craft movement’s figures, schools and issues.
The work of British arts and craftswoman Jessie Bayes has been described as ethereal, magical, and an “expression of things felt and seen.”
Bayes was known for her work in woodcarving, painting, calligraphy, gesso and gilding, and stained glass, but is best known for her ethereal illuminated manuscripts inspired by Scandinavian, Celtic, and French poetry. She often wrote the texts which were dominated by themes of romance and mysticism and strove to beautify everyday life and “wed the physical and spiritual.”
Jessie Bayes was raised in an artistic family where the four children were taught by their father Alfred, an etcher and book illustrator, to appreciate beauty at an early age. All her siblings later pursued careers in the fine arts.
Bayes attended evening classes at London’s Central School of Arts and Crafts, which grew directly out of the Arts and Crafts Movement of William Morris. There, Bayes learned to gild on wood and discovered a love for writing and illumination.
The art of illumination requires patience and attention to detail. Bayes, who combined tempera with watercolor and gold gilt, developed her own sense of jewel-like color, often in blues and golds. She felt that the “idea of color symbolizing love should be above all precious to an illuminator, since, in illuminating, color can reach its intensest [sic] height of purity and radiance.”
Bayes exhibited widely with the Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society, and at the Royal Academy and the Baillie Gallery in London. In 1922, Bayes exhibited some of her illuminated books, as well as paintings on vellum, fans, and panels, at the Art Center in New York. Bayes gradually expanded her repertoire to include painted and gilded decoration on furniture as well as interior design and stained-glass work.
Excerpted from the Cranbrook Kitchen Sink Weekly Blog.