Allegorical Figures and West Bromwich Coat of Arms
Type Coat of Arms , Panel
The main relief is divided into three parts by two leafing trees. The central part depicts five male figures in workmen's tunics and the central classically-draped female figure of Athene. She wears the breastplate of Wisdom and the lamp of Knowledge burns brightly beside her (with a large cog leaning against it in recognition of the link between skill and knowledge). She represents the genius that is an important ingredient in the production of quality arts and crafts. She places a wreath on the head of a kneeling boy who is showing her a piece of wrought ironwork that he has designed. The two standing figures next to him on Athene's left are presenting her with a small statuette and a scale model of the art school: they represent Sculpture and Architecture respectively. The standing male figure on Athene's right showing her a drawing represents Design, while the man to his right represents Painting. To each side of this central group are five figures representing the minor arts and crafts. In the left hand section of the panel, it is possible to identify a craftsman carving a bust in stone, a designer drawing plant forms from nature, an engraver etching a copper plate, an embroidery worker, and a potter turning his wheel and producing a vase from his clay. In the right hand section of the panel, we can see the seated figure of a designer of stained glass windows, a jeweller, a draughtsman measuring a drawing with compasses, a wood carver and a blacksmith with hammer, forge and anvil.
Below the main relief immediately above the entrance is the West Bromwich Coat of Arms and crest (granted 1882). The shield depicts an antlered stags head from the front, and a fers-de-moline (the centre of a millstone, symbolising industry) at each top corner and at the base. The crest is a seated stag shown from the side, its right fore foot raised upon another fers-de-moline.
Frederick Ryland (1845-1899) instituted a fund raising campaign for the new art school. This, together with Sir George Kendrick's gift, was instrumental in achieving Ryland's goal of promoting art education in the Borough.
The building was designed as an art school, and the allegorical figures are intended to represent the subjects that were taught there.
PMSA recording information