The School > School Heads H M Grace (Rev)
1935-1941

 The Rev. H.M.Grace, the Principal of Achimota College in the Gold Coast (Ghana), offered Meyerowitz the job of arts and crafts supervisor. Achimota College had been founded in 1927 as a selective boarding school to train an African élite. It combined Western educational methods with the study of local customs, languages, biology and geography.

Meyerowitz and his wife made a survey of the indigenous crafts of the Gold Coast, which they found to be in decline. At Achimota, he replaced Western-style art classes based on academic drawing with an arts and crafts approach based on local skills and traditions.

From 1937, Meyerowitz began to develop a scheme for an Institute of West African Arts, Industries and Social Sciences, which would be a "marriage of the of aesthetic skill and power to modern technique".[3] It would investigate local arts and crafts, teach certain native crafts in the light of European experience and create local craft industries. It would also investigate local history, tribal life, customs, religion and economic conditions. This scheme was approved by the West African Governors' Conference at Lagos in 1939 and the Advisory Committee on Education in 1940. Before the war, African colonies had depended on the export of commodities, which was made almost impossible by enemy shipping. The Colonial Officeadopted instead a policy developing indigenous industries and eventually accepted Meyerowitz's idea. In 1943, the Institute was set up under the direction of the Rev. R.W.Stopford. Meyerowitz's colleague Michael Cardew records that only the power of Meyerowitz's "magnetic eloquence (backed up by the pressure of the war) could have persuaded the Colonial Office to support the project and the Treasury to release the necessary funds."[2]

Meyerowitz planned the Institute on the basis of production units that would combine the arts with industry. "If industries are to be established for West African needs," he argued, "the only alternative to white capital and coloured labour is a self-contained development of the kind now proposed; and the people as a whole benefit more from many local production units on a co-operative basis than from concentrated industrial centres".[3]

In 1936, on the recommendation of the English studio potter Michael Cardew, Meyerowitz appointed Harry Davis to teach pottery at Achimota and expand the pottery department to manufacture bricks, tiles, water coolers and glazed ware. The College also produced textiles. Davis resigned in 1942, and was replaced by Cardew, who undertook a large expansion of the pottery on a site at Alajo, with the aim of creating a profitable business that would meet all the pottery needs of West Africa, including that of the British Army. The pottery made continuing losses and the educated Africans who worked as apprentices found little to admire in Cardew's studio pottery approach.[4] Grace had retired from the college in 1940, depriving Meyerowitz of a useful ally. Stopford retired in 1945

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