Kipling is almost a household name for many in our group, but primarily in the context of Rudyard Kipling, the writer of the well-known stories and fables about India. When researching the author a few years back I was surprised to learn about his talented father, whose beautiful illustrations graced the early editions of several of his son’s books.
Those lucky enough to be in London this month can visit the Victoria & Albert Museum for the exhibition Lockwood Kipling: Arts and Crafts in the Punjab and London.
More of note, not only was the senior Kipling an artist, writer, museum director, teacher, and influential figure in the Arts and Crafts movement – he was also a conservationist, distinguished for promoting the traditional textile crafts of India and what is now Pakistan.
The 19th century Arts and Crafts revival in British India is a fascinating chapter in the international history of art and design. However, John Lockwood Kipling’s career as designer and architectural sculptor, curator and educator, illustrator and journalist, has received little attention.
Lockwood Kipling started his career as an architectural sculptor at the South Kensington Museum (later renamed the Victoria and Albert Museum) in 1861. He then spent a decade teaching at the Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy School of Art in Mumbai, and a further eighteen years as Principal of the Mayo School of Industrial Arts in Lahore (today Pakistan’s National College of Arts) and Curator of the Lahore Museum. The V&A collections contain drawings by John Lockwood Kipling depicting potters, dyers, jewellery makers and toy-makers, cloth-sellers, metal workers and wood-carvers.
In 2017 the V&A will open an exhibition about John Lockwood Kipling, curated by Julius Bryant (V&A) and Susan Weber (Bard Graduate Centre). It will present the results of a 3-year international research project bringing together scholars from Mumbai, Lahore, London, New York, Vermont and Hawaii.