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Exhibition of the Week – William Morris Gallery

William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) was an English textile designer and you can still buy his designs from Sanderson … see link below…

http://www.sanderson-uk.com/

There is also the most wonderful gallery that you can go and visit… to tell you a little more about the history of his designs and techniques!

The Gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am–5pm.

Here’s article we saw in “The Week” a couple of weeks ago…

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The William Morris Gallery

Walthamstow, London E17 (020-8496 4390, www.wmgallery.org.uk)

William Morris (1834-1896) “has been in and out of fashion so often that the sympathetic watcher can get whiplash following his reputation”, said Judith Flanders in The Sunday Telegraph. During his lifetime, Morris, forerunner of the Arts and Crafts movement and pioneer of furniture and fabric design, was placed on a pedestal by his contemporaries. Yet only ten years after his death, he was derided by John Ruskin as “a great man who somehow delighted in glaring wallpapers”. But now Morris is back in vogue once more – due in large part to his “pioneering” belief that art should be accessible to all.

Anyone doubting this need only look at what has happened to the museum housed in Morris’s childhood home, said Rachel Campbell-Johnston in The Times. Five years ago, it was on the brink of closure. Then the Heritage Lottery Fund and Waltham Forest council came to the rescue. After a £10m refurbishment, the handsome bay-fronted Georgian building has just been re-opened. But has it really been worth doing so? Although Morris was born here, the house “hardly feels pivotal to his artistic development”: it certainly doesn’t rank in importance with Red House in Bexleyheath, which Morris designed himself. However, what it does do – and exceptionally well – is “provide a portrait of the man”. As you move through the “small” and “fairly sparse” rooms, you see how all the elements that formed him – “designer, craftsman, poet and political activist” – came together. There are sections devoted to Morris’s poetry, to the Kelmscott Press and to his Oxford street shop. The impression it leaves of Morris is of someone of apparently inexhaustible energy. Little wonder that when he died aged 62, one doctor claimed it was due to his “simply being William Morris and having done more work than most ten men”.

“Any one-man museum has to have an agenda,” said Charles Darwent in The Independent on Sunday. This is “no exception”: along with the revamp, Morris’s reputation, too, has been refurbished. Determined to update the view that Morris is all about Victoriana, the gallery has chosen to display his work alongside that of Turner Prize-winner Grayson Perry – this, despite the fact that Perry’s work “would probably have had the ill-tempered Morris dancing with rage”. And in an effort to justify its expenditure, the council has “taken Morris’s ideas on educating the masses to heart”. Here, “you can do such Morris-like things as design your own stained-glass window, or knot your own carpet”. There are even Morris fridge magnets on sale in the gift shop. What a pity that the essence of Morris himself gets lost in the mix.

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