Perpetuating the memory of one of the greatest men of the Victorian age

10th November 2020

The Historic Buildings, Parks and Gardens Event, which has been running for over 35 years is held in parallel with the Historic Houses Annual General Meeting. Visitors to the Event are owners and guardians of historic buildings (private, commercial, industrial, Grade I listed buildings, cathedrals, churches, manor houses, windmills, historic town centres), parks and gardens – their management staff, their advisers and a range of professionals. The Event creates a unique and unrivalled promotional opportunity for companies offering products and services involved in the care, repair and conservation of historic buildings, and their surrounding landscapes.

Programme

  • Virtual Exhibition of specialist services providers
  • Video links for Historic Houses Presidents address
  • Variety of video demonstrations
  • Details of exhibitors products and services
  • Access to support and advice
  • Bonus digital version of the Exhibition Guide to view & download

Free to register. Find out more here.

The Stockinger – Mary Annie Sloane

A pencil drawing of a weaver working at a frame on paper drawn by Mary Annie Sloane ARE (1867-1961). Mary Annie Sloane ARE was an artist known for etching and painting. She was a member of the Women’s Guild of Arts and a close lifelong friend of May Morris. Sloane was known for creating works that captured the real labourers and conditions in the garment industry.

The Roycroft Campus, The Ruskin Society of North America, and The Guild of St. George (founded by Ruskin in the 1870s in the UK), have come together to collaborate on an exciting series of virtual talks titled “Ruskin, Roycroft, and the Arts and Crafts Movement” that will be take place on five successive Saturdays this October: October 3, 10, 17, 24, and 31. The first two gatherings will feature two internationally known Ruskin specialists: on October 3, Professor Jim Spates will speak on “From Rouen to Roycroft: John Ruskin and the Birth of the Arts and Crafts Movement”; on the following Saturday, Dr. Peter Burman will provide a “Scottish Perspective on Ruskin’s Influence on the Arts and Crafts Movement in the United Kingdom.” Subsequent Saturdays will feature a history of how Elbert Hubbard’s vision and energy established the Movement in North America, and illustrated talks by artists-in-residence at The Roycroft Campus, who will speak on the vital importance of drawing, photography, writing, and creative book-making in the modern world.

Sessions will be held using the Zoom format and all talks will be followed by a Question and Answer session. Registration for the Conference is $50 per person, which covers all five weeks (eight presentations). For more information on the topics and speakers and to register please visit the Roycroft Campus website at: www.roycroftcampuscorp.com and click on the “Ruskin Roycroft Conference” banner.

For a direct link, click here: www.roycroftcampuscorporation.com/ruskin-roycroft-conference/

Wey textile (on velvet)

This textile was produced in 1883 using the surface block printing method at Merton Abbey. The piece is a printed velveteen textile depicting a branch design of diagonally meandering stems with acanthus leaves and unopened chrysanthemum flowers, and with large red and yellow chrysanthemum open flowerheads, on a red background.

The pattern was designed by Morris in response to a 15th century velvet acquired by the South Kensington Museum in 1883. A strong diagonal pattern was typical of his wallpaper and textile designs around this period. It is one of 13 textile designs by Morris named after tributaries of the River Thames.

Design for ‘Windrush’ chintz, by William Morris, 1881. Pencil, pen, ink and watercolour on paper. Inscribed ‘Windrush chintz, 3 block white, brown, blue’.

Windrush is a complex design depicting vertically meandering stems with large flower-heads, overlapping with the scrolling foliage and flower-heads of a smaller plant on a blue background. Morris would draw in black ink from the original design to outline one unit of the repeat. The design was then translated into wood by block-cutters, with the narrower lines made in metal to ensure durability during printing. Textiles were produced by a similar block printing process.

Like many of Morris’s later designs for both wallpaper and fabric it shows a strong diagonal bias, perhaps influenced by the design of a seventeenth century Italian cut velvet at South Kensington Museum. The design also introduces what Morris called the ‘inhabited leaf’, a floral pattern within a flower or leaf, derived from Middle Eastern art and the medieval textiles influenced by it.

Windrush was one of thirteen designs named after tributaries of the Thames, the river which was a source of inspiration for Morris and linked his two homes Kelmscott House in Hammersmith, London and Kelmscott Manor in Oxfordshire. Morris’s daughter May claimed Windrush was “named in memory of pleasant summer journeys along the Windrush valley”.

This design, together with a sample of Windrush printed linen, features in our current online exhibition, Highlights from The William Morris Society’s Collection.

The William Morris Society is carrying out a survey to better understand who our digital audiences are and how digital audiences are engaging with arts and culture online, more generally.

The survey should take no longer than 5 minutes to complete and your input will help us to evaluate the impact of our digital work and help us understand how people’s consumption of online arts and culture have been changed by COVID-19.

Anything you tell us will be kept confidential, is anonymous and will only be used for research purposes. The information you provide will be held by The William Morris Society and The Audience Agency, who are running the survey on our behalf. In compliance with GDPR, your data will be stored securely and will only be used for the purposes it was given.

You can complete the survey here.

Thank you for your help, and stay safe and well.

Design for Bird woven wool, William Morris, pencil and watercolour on paper, 1878

Consisting of a range of original items, the majority of The William Morris Society’s collection was acquired through the generous gift of the late Mrs Helena Stephenson, a keen Morris enthusiast and collector, who also bequeathed Kelmscott House to the Society in 1970.

It includes Sussex chairs, wallpaper, textiles, Kelmscott Press books, typographical samples, Socialist pamphlets, Morris & Co catalogues, designs on paper, William De Morgan ceramics and an original Albion printing press. Amongst the designs for mural decoration are a number for several major commissions, namely, St James’ Palace, the repainting of the Oxford Union debating Hall ceiling in 1875 and for the ceiling of the drawing room of No 1 Holland Park. Textiles in the collection range from cotton and silk damask samples to Hammersmith rugs and woollen curtains. Original designs consist of drawings for wallpaper, stained glass, murals, embroideries and woven textiles, including this design for Bird.

The Society holds an impressive collection of original designs by Morris & Co. It is particularly appropriate that the design for Bird resides in our collection at Morris’s former home because it was created by Morris in 1878 specifically for the drawing room there. In 2015 Bird was taken as the inspiration for the Society’s new visual identity due to its historic importance and the major significance to Kelmscott House.

On 25thMarch 1877 Morris wrote to Thomas Wardle,‘I am studying birds now to see if I can’t get some of them into my next design.’ This is the first of a group of designs showing pairs of facing birds, perched and in flight. Morris’s inspiration for these designs came from 16thand 17thcentury Italian woven silks seen in the collections of the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A).

Morris leased Kelmscott House in April 1878 and designed Bird to hang in the house. Photographs show it draped around the walls of the first-floor drawing room. This double-woven woollen fabric hung from picture-rail to floor and, together with a Tulip and Lily carpet, would have resulted in blue and green being the predominant colours of the room.

May, Morris’s younger daughter, described the pattern as ‘intimate and friendly…the most adaptable to the needs of everyday life. It suggests not the wealth of the Millionaire but the modest competence of a middle-class merchant who lives…with the few beautiful things he has collected slowly and carefully.’

The William Morris Society owns examples of the Bird woven wool as curtains in both of the available colourways of blue and red. A framed example can be seen in our current online exhibition, Highlights from The William Morris Society’s Collection.

Text by Helen Elletson, curator.

Opportunities at The William Morris Society: Learning and Outreach Officer

The William Morris Society is a charity and membership organization promoting the life, work and contemporary relevance of William Morris, the great 19thCentury designer, craftsman, writer and social activist. The Society maintains a free-access museum in Morris’ former home on the riverside in Hammersmith and produces talks, publications, exhibitions, learning and participation activities. We are currently recruiting for a learning and outreach officer who wants to work with a small team of enthusiastic staff and volunteers on a 14-21 hours per week basis for a six month period.

Working closely with the Society Manager, the postholder will be focused primarily on learning and outreach development activities and digitally-delivered public engagement. The position is a fixed term contract for six months, extendable by mutual agreement, with flexible and remote working possible. The ideal candidate will be an outgoing and self-motivated individual, with a minimum of 4 years’ experience in a heritage or arts environment and willingness to work independently but also collaboratively. Knowledge and interest in William Morris and 19thCentury art and/or social history will be a major advantage.

Learn more and download the job description on our Opportunities page.

The William Morris Society’s Annual General Meeting will be held at 12.00 on Saturday 4 July 2020. After serious consideration we have decided we must hold a virtual AGM and have opted to use the Zoom platform which is widely known.

Members will have received the meeting papers and an invitation to register attendance by email. If you are a member and haven’t received this, please contact societymanager@williammorrissociety.org.uk