The Means of Creative Expression: Design Education for Town and Country New South Wales in the 1940s

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Abstract

In 1939, an English artist, designer and teacher named Ann Gillmore Rees arrived in New South Wales. Over the next nine years Rees taught design and craft to adults in Sydney, working for the Children's Library and Craft Movement (later to become the Creative Leisure Movement), the Australian Red Cross, and the Society of Arts and Crafts of New South Wales. Although the period from 1939 until 1948 represents only a short period in what was a long and diverse career, Rees'students included some notable figures, among them Margaret Oppen who went on to establish the Embroiderers Guild of NSW, Ysobel Irvine, later a popular teacher at the Workshop Art Centre in Willoughby, and the noted interior designer Marion Hall Best. Despite her active participation in the cultural life of Sydney, Rees is curiously absent from most of the histories of craft and design in Australia and very little has been written about her work as a teacher. This article outlines Ann Gillmore Rees' teaching activities in Sydney, with particular focus on the Craft Training School and Correspondence Courses in Colour and Design and Fabric Printing that she developed for the Society of Arts and Crafts of New South Wales. It also analyses the role these classes played at a time of limited access to formal educational programmes in craft and design and consider how, in these classes, Rees combined elements of vocational, recreational and informational adult education so as to appeal to a wide audience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-60
Number of pages9
JournalHistory of Education Review
Volume37
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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