THE designer and architectural sculptor, John Lockwood Kipling is the focus of a new show at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London which opens early next year. An influential figure of the Arts and Crafts Movement of the Nineteenth Century, Lockwood Kipling is perhaps better known as the illustrator of Jungle Book and Kim, stories written by his son, Rudyard. Motivated as a young man by the fabulous displays of Indian craftwork at the Great Exhibition of 1851, Lockwood became a keen advocate of Indian craft which he later taught at the Mayo School of Industrial Arts in Lahore, India (now the National College of Art).
Overlooking the John Madejski garden at the Victoria and Albert Museum is an interesting mosaic plaque commemorating Godfrey Sykes’ decorative terracotta work for the South Kensington Museum, as it was formerly known. Lockwood, who took part in the project, is shown carrying a scroll followed by Henry Cole, the first director of the museum.
Mosaic panel after Godfrey Sykes, c.a. 1866, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Far from being an imperialist, Lockwood was concerned with the decline in traditional craft skills, a consequence of the cheap European imports infiltrating India during the Industrial Revolution. As an architectural sculptor, Lockwood inclined towards natural forms which inspired new designs for industrial art, in combination with the historical works at the Lahore Museum of which he was curator. Writing in 1880, he recorded, “I have observed that very little is popularly known of the fishes of the country; many are curious in form and beautiful in colour.”
Wood Carver from a collection depicting craftsmen of the North West provinces of
British India by John Lockwood. Courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum
The exhibition, Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab will show original displays first seen by Lockwood at the Great Exhibition of 1851, artefacts chosen by Lockwood for the Victoria and Albert Museum and furniture he designed for Queen Victoria’s homes at Bagshot Park and Osborne House. Lockwood’s fascinating collection of sketches depicting Indian wood-carvers, metallurgists, ceramists, jewellery and toy makers will also be on display. Other exhibits include a piano decorated by Edward Burne-Jones played by Lockwood’s wife, Alice Macdonald and her embroidery for the Red House, the home of William Morris.
Bracelet shown at the Great Exhibition made in Rajasthan, India, c.a. 1850, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
by Miranda Charalambous
The free exhibition, Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab, made in collaboration with the Bard Graduate Center, New York opens from January 14 until April 2, 2017 at The Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7942 2000
Front page image: The Great Exhibition, India No.4 by Joseph Nash, c.a. 1851, Royal Collection Trust, Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2016