The Guild at 51
Guild at 51 Products from Members of the Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen
Guild at 51? The Cheltenham Museum and Art Gallery redesigned, rebuilt and rebranded (as The Wilson) recently, to include new gallery space and the relocation of the Tourist Information Centre. The new building – or complex – included Guild at 51 a retail space for the Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen (and, presumably, craftswomen). It runs as a charitable co-operative of designers and makers.
The Guild at 51 sells their work and showcases new pieces.
I’m a little wary of ‘crafts’, which sometimes carries a rather gloomy association with amateur tat – memories of wonky straw baskets, home-dyed murky-pattered scarves or chunky jewellery on offer at Church Hall craft markets on wet Sunday afternoons. So the first question; is the stuff at The Guild at 51 any good?
The answer is ‘yes’. The key factor is that the 60 plus makers involved here are professional – they make most of their living from sales. The other factor is that the Guild draws on a long history. Formed in 1933, the Guild naturally emphasises links with the Arts and Crafts Movement in Gloucestershire and, in fact, the Guild was expressly created to build on the tradition of high quality craftsmanship in the county. So, there’s a pleasing connection between the Guild, the Arts and Crafts Movement and the Arts and Crafts Gallery at The Wilson, a few steps away within the museum.
The shop offers jewellery, ceramics, textiles, paper, furniture, leatherwork, glass, basketry and more. For the average punter (like me) some of the prices might cause a raised eyebrow initially, but I think it’s important to reflect on the work that goes into production on a unique or small scale.
Tastes differ, of course, but Guild at 51 is an interesting shop with a good range of items.
The Gloucestershire Guild runs a program of craft workshops at The Wilson.