Joseph Priestley

Works of Gilbert Bayes

Bayes and the Arts and Crafts Movement

The end of the nineteenth century marked a developing enthusiasm for the Arts and Crafts movement.

Gilbert Bayes had a strong belief that the artist should serve the community and serve it well. He was certainly interested in the applied arts and between 1890 and 1900 he produced large numbers of low relief plaque and panels in wax and plaster. In the oak cabinet he exhibited in 1910 he showed how panels in wax plaster as well as electrolysed and beaten metal, amongst other materials could be incorporated into furniture. He produced a wax model for a door handle in 1889 and continued with hand and standing mirrors, doorplates and furniture as well as a cabinet. He worked in plaster, wood, copper, bronze and silver and in enamels.

Gilbert Bayes at Work

Gilbert Bayes Sculptor

Bayes believed that the sculptor had an important role to play in the church and he gave lectures on this area of activity. He believed that the colour rather than form, if properly used, had a very strong appeal to people. One of the earliest examples of religious works was a large stone sculpture of St Hugh for St Hugh's Church in Lincoln. The first major commissions were the rood screen during the First World War for St Mary's Church, Primrose Hill, London and the Irving lectern for the Royal Savoy Chapel London. He also made a processional cross for St Mark's Church, Hamilton Terrace, London and, on a greater scale the calvary made for St Saviour's Church in Ealing. Gilbert's first commission for stained glass windows was completed in 1928 for the Aldeburgh Church in Suffolk. This was for a memorial window for Samuel Garrett and it was his collaboration on this with Leonard Walker, which led him to become a member of the Worshipful Company of Claciers in 1933. The only other stained glass commission was the memorial to Captain Glyn Rhys Williams of Miskin Manor, Wales, who was killed in N. Africa in 1943.

Secular Art

In the secular field, perhaps one of Gilbert Bayes's most famous pieces is the Queen of Time Clock, undertaken for Selfridges in 1930. This was in addition to many other clocks, panels and caskets that he also created. He also designed objects associated with the table, the most successful of which was the candlestick made for Allied Newspapers in 1935. He also designed a series of washing post finials or the St Pancreas Housing Association, which also showed how good Bayes could be at designing what was in effect a popular mass-produced object.

In his later years Bayes produced little applied decorative art, mainly because the commissions were no longer there.

The Queen of Time

Gilbert Bayes Commisions

Gilbert Bayes found his garden to be a source of inspiration as well as relaxation. The mosaic pool he created around his stoneware fountain, the Blue Robed Bambino, won a Gold medal at the Paris Exhibition of 1925. Other ornaments he created in both Doulton stoneware and polychrome included the Lilymaid and his Great Pan as well as the Pipes of Pan, which was kept in his front garden at 4 Greville Place. He used the Doulton ware to provide colour in his garden all year round. He was strongly in favour of the use of water in public spaces. In an early commission he was asked to provide a bronze figure of St John to be placed on an existing fountain basin in the Merchant Tailors Hall in the City of London. He also produced the impressive fountain of the Valkyries, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1912. Bayes received many commissions for memorial sculptures to be placed in public spaces, including parks, graveyards and town squares.

The First World War brought an increased demand for memorial work and Bayes was required to work on statues symbolising the trauma of war and huge loss of life. His evocative piece, Destiny, in Portland stone was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1916 and later used for the centrepiece of the Ramsgate War Memorial.