Douglas Jackson's Story
A Churchill Fellowship enabled Manchester writer, Douglas Jackson, to carry out extensive research on one of the most important, if unrecognised, artists and craftsman of the art nouveau period - Joseph Briggs, known as 'the English Tiffany'.
Briggs was born in the Lancashire mill town of Accrington in North West England, but spent his life working for the art nouveau genius Louis Comfort Tiffany in New York. In the 1930s he sent rare and valuable pieces of Tiffany glass back to Accrington, where they are now displayed at the Haworth art gallery as the largest collection in Europe.
Douglas wanted to correct the sketchy and dubious information about Joseph Briggs. He was convinced that information of value would be buried in archives in America and in the memories of elderly people who knew the family.
In 1999, he spent seven weeks in USA and Canada on initial research, travelling as far north as Toronto and as far south as Miami. Douglas brought to life the hitherto unknown Joseph Briggs, who became Tiffany’s close friend and right hand man, and ultimately the head of the company. He was also one of the firm’s finest craftsmen, responsible for some of its greatest works.
The Fellowship allowed Douglas to ascertain information that he could never have found had he not travelled to America. He was able to follow up on new and mostly unpredictable leads as they arose, and conduct further research. In addition, controversial aspects of the Briggs story - never before discussed - came to light only because Douglas was able to meet Tiffany experts face-to-face.
Douglas was immediately able to correct erroneous information about Joseph Briggs, and also provide new information about him. He has contributed text and illustrations for new exhibition displays about Tiffany and Briggs at the Haworth art gallery; and over the years he has also given many illustrated lectures on the subject, both in the North West of England and across the UK.
He has now realised a long-held ambition to bring together all the information he has obtained over many years, and publish a book that would bring to life Joseph Briggs, the unsung hero of the UK art world. Called Mosaic, it was launched at a book-signing event at the art gallery in June 2015.