Rachel Barron and Grammar of Ornament

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Rachel Barron’s first major show Grammar of Ornament runs at The Briggait, Glasgow from 5-23 August 2013.

The exhibition titles draws upon Owen Jones’ seminal 1856 publication of the same name, which sought to catalogue decorative motifs and designs from across the world and bring them together in an encyclopedia of ornament. During the exhibition, Rachel will design and construct a floor piece that will evolve in response to the architecture of the gallery and the surrounding area.

We hold several copies of Jones’ Grammar of Ornament, including both folio and non-folio editions of the first 1856 edition. We also hold the later 1868 and 1910 editions. Jones was concerned that the developing museum display collections of the 19th century would encourage students simply to copy examples of ornament, rather than be inspired to examine underlying decorative principles. Furthermore, their London locations made it difficult for students at the provincial Schools of Design to gain access. Through articles and lectures, Jones had been formulating what he considered to be the key principles of the decorative arts. He expanded his propositions to create “general principles in the arrangement of form and colour in architecture and the decorative arts”. The first 19 chapters of the Grammar of Ornament presented key examples of ornament from a number of sources, notably the Middle East. The final chapter was titled ‘Leaves and Flowers from Nature’

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