William Bond was Head Master of Brighton School of Art from 1905 until his sudden death in 1918. An accomplished painter in both oils and watercolours, he had been a pupil teacher at the School prior to undertaking further artistic training in Paris. He exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy.
Under Bond’s regime as Head, Brighton was recognised as one of the leading art schools in the country, evidenced in the Board of Education’s recognition of Brighton as an institution for art teacher training, one of the few outside London. Bond’s outlook was aligned with the late 19th century arts and crafts values embraced by Walter Crane at the Royal College of Art, Frances Newberry at Glasgow School of Art and William Lethaby at the Central School, London (established 1896). Indeed, as was described in his obituary in the Brighton Herald on 20 July, 1918, Bond’s
definition of art was of the broadest and most comprehensive kind. He firmly held to the gospel of William Morris that art is an essential need of our natures, and should permeate our daily lives. Mr Bond was not satisfied with the painting of pictures. He wanted art in our towns, in our streets, in our public buildings, in our homes. He wanted stately homes; he wanted frescoes on the bare walls of our Town Halls and Public Galleries; he wanted simple, artistic saucepans and kitchen tables; he wanted our streets kept clean and free from bits of paper.
One of Bond’s principal achievements was to bring the School to a position of greater prominence in the town, influencing and informing public debate on aesthetic matters. His interventions ranged across a broad spectrum, from the greening of urban spaces and the radical reorganisation of art teaching in Brighton elementary schools to his advocacy to the Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce of the social, economic and aesthetic benefits implicit in the aims of the national Design & Industries Association, established in 1915.
Bond was also a significant influence on the formation of the Brighton Guild of Applied Art, established to promote the work of artistic craftsmanship and for which the highly influential educationist and architect William Lethaby served as a Vice-President. Bond’s social commitment was also to the fore: during the First World War, Bond gave up his holidays to supervise training at the Art School for disabled soldiers in such fields as letter carving in wood and stone, mechanical draughtsmanship and other branches of industrial art.