The relationships that the Brighton School of Art, now the College of Arts and Humanities and Ditchling arts and crafts community dates back to over 150 years. Several of the artists and craftspeople based there since the beginning of the twentieth century have also been students and tutors at the School of Art.
The partnership with the Ditchling Museum developed through conserving, analysing and communicating the legacy of the Ditchling arts and crafts community. Located in the heart of the village, it has built up archives of objects, documents, books and ephemera and provides a valuable resource for both visitors and researchers. The Museum offers an accessible and evocative insight into type of craftsmanship and way of life the Ditchling Arts and Crafts community developed, at the same time as supporting research and scholarship, including the current links to the University of Brighton, which might lead to fresh perspectives. The Museum also supports contemporary practitioners exploring processes and materials through exhibitions and access to the collection.
The College’s work with the Museum has included:
The partnership has enabled research into the workshop traditions and art resources for educational purposes, allowing the University of Brighton to effectively extend students’ learning space. Contributing to strategic development in art and design education, the results of this collaboration can be seen in the evolution of audiences' engagement and the broader understanding of material culture on a national scale.
The museum holds an internationally important collection of work by the artists and craftspeople who were drawn to the village, including the sculptor, wood engraver, type-designer and letter-cutter Eric Gill, the calligrapher Edward Johnston (responsible for the famous Johnston typeface used for London Underground), the painter David Jones, the printer Hilary Pepler and the weaver Ethel Mairet.
Being able to see special objects and works of art and craft in the village where they were made is a rare opportunity. It offers a unique way to consider how the objects were made and who they were made for.
The impact of the many artists and craftspeople who came to live and work in Ditchling from the beginning of the 20th century onwards established this village as one of the most important places for the visual arts and crafts in Britain.
2013 after a major refurbishment the reopening heralded an exciting phase for the museum; with a major refurbishment by Adam Richards Architects, a dedicated learning space with an engaging programme of events for adults and children, a new shop and cafe, purpose built collection store, a research room and new displays.