February 17, 2018
As a country girl growing up in Dorset, I had a small dream, ‘To know London and feel at ease there.’ When I moved to Surrey to do my apprenticeship at the RSN I had the chance. Almost every weekend I’d visit the sites and museums socking up the History and energy of the place. One location was always my first port of call, and for me embodies the whole atmosphere of the Arts & Craft and Art Nouveau period in one place “Liberty London” on Regent Street, Opened in 1875 by Arthur Lesenby Liberty.
His first shop had just three members of staff, but in just eighteen months he had repaid a loan and taken a lease on the second half of 218 Regent Street. Business went from strength to strength and neighboring properties were added to the empire. They predominantly sold fabric and objet d’art from Japan and the East. In 1884 a Costume department came followed by household carpets and furniture.
During the 1890s, Liberty in my mind came into it’s own with the, artistic style known as Arts & Crafts and Art Nouveau. Liberty helped develop Art Nouveau through his encouragement of designers of the day. The company became associated with these moreish styles and still does today to the extent that in Italy, Art Nouveau became known as the Stile Liberty after the London shop.
The Store became very fashionable, the place to shop in London, attracting interesting clientele like the famous Pre-Raphaelite artists and Oscar Wild who thought very highly of the shop and quoted “Liberty is the chosen resort of the artistic shopper” in my mind this statement still holds strong today, they still promote, encourage and exhibit young creative talent throughout the departments.
We’ve all dreamt of our work being exhibited there. I still like to visit our old London town from time to time but now to show and share with my partner “My London” and what I’d learnt there, though these days my original London A to Z is worn to the knuckle and I need glasses for the tube map, oh well, time and tide.
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