School of Art
The Gallery of Crafts 1918–1935
The teaching of art at Aberystwyth began in the late 19th century with the activities of the Drawing Master engaged by the Department of Education. Around 1917 the sub-Department of Art and Crafts emerged as a discrete part of the Department of Education—Daniel Rowland Jones was full-time Drawing Master. Dr Thomas Jones and Professor H.J. Fleure persuaded Gwendoline and Margaret Davies of Llandinam that there was a need for a teaching collection for students to appreciate contemporary British art and craft at first hand. In 1918 they gave £5,000 as an endowment fund ‘to provide income for the museum's needs'. It was also hoped the collection would lead to an arts and crafts revival in Wales. The aim was to ‘instruct and inspire' trainee teachers to carry on the good work in schools in order to foster revivals in local craft industries.
On the recommendation of Thomas Jones, the sisters invited his friend, the architect of the National Library of Wales, Sidney Kyffin Greenslade to become ‘Consulting Curator'. Sharing his time between his native Exeter and London, Greenslade visited private galleries, society exhibitions, artists' studios and antique shops with an annual budget of about £250, acquiring prints, ceramics, glass, basket work, calligraphy, private press books and ethnographic material. Old and new artefacts were bought so that the two might be compared. Dan Jones curated the collection from 1924 until his death in 1934 when the Museum's activities were curtailed. Principal Ifor L. Evans persuaded the Davies sisters to allow him to re-direct all but £1,000 of the original museum gift for a new Agricultural Science building and Greenslade was dismissed. H.J. Fleure left for Manchester in 1929 and with him went the political clout and the only strong voice for the Arts and Crafts cause within the University. By the time Robert Lambert Gapper took responsibility for the teaching of art and the mantle of curatorship in 1934 the odds were heavily stacked against him.