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

A CollAborative exhibition project between sTORYBOX COLLECTIVE & THE WILLIAM MORRIS SOCIETY

WILLIAM MORRIS : WALLPAPER MAN

William Morris: Wallpaper Man is an exhibition of new work that responds to the legacy of William Morris. The work has been created by The Storybox Collective, a group of artists, designers, illustrators and writers working together to apply a serendipitous approach to collaborative making.

 

The Storybox Collective members are connected by their ties to Kingston School of Art. They are students, recent graduates and alumni with honorary membership extended to designer Patrick Thomas and to Sol Rubio King aged 4 whose work in collaboration with her mother Mar is featured in these highlights from the opening Private View of the exhibition.

Members of the collective are based in Bangkok, Berlin, Brighton, Manchester, Nantucket, Rotterdam, Sardinia and London. Interdisciplinary collaboration is at the heart of what they do, with each member identifying an area of interest, then working together to create work that responds to shared themes. Through discussion and exchange of ideas, the work has been curated into three group story boxes each linked by a quote from William Morris’s lectures.

The Collective’s definition of a story box is something that best communicates the narrative of the combined work. It can take any form: print, digital, moving image or object. For William Morris: Wallpaper Man the curatorial centrepiece sits in the lower library at the William Morris Society. It is a recycled acrylic model of Kelmscott House, Hammersmith with each floor, a story box hosting fragments of work that represent each work within the story box.

To see more works produced by Storybox Collective as part of this project and to learn more about these fantastic makers and their work please visit:

https://thestoryboxcollective.org.uk

Please enjoy the short film below, which shows this acrylic model and some of the fantastic artwork produced by the collective. (filming by Brandon Pestano)

https://thestoryboxcollective.org.ukhttps://thestoryboxcollective.org.u

ENJOY HIGHLIGHTS OF THE EXHIBITION BELOW; HOVER OVER EACH WORK TO READ THE INDIVIDUAL ARTIST STATEMENTS AND CLICK ON THE WORKS TO SEE THEM CLOSE UP.

QUILT, BY IZI THEXTON

"colibri", by monica arroyo berezowsky

HARMONY COLLECTION , BY ILARIA ANTOLINI

BEAUTIFUL/USEFUL, BY SADIE COOK

THREE FUROSHIKIS FROM SOUTH LONDON: NETTLE LEAVES. OAK GALLS. DOCK ROOTS, BY MAR RUBIO CONDERCH & SOL RUBIO KING

Artistic Dress 2020 [The William Morris Tracksuit], BY LEO RUSSO, AMY TURNBULL & JOSEPH MONTAGU

A project that pursues the making of three screen printing inks using mainly locally foraged plants. The restrictions imposed by the lockdown inspired this project by producing a mother and daughter collaboration in which daily walks, foraging, writing, drawing and experimentation with colour-making merged together to produce three Furoshikis (multipurpose cloths). Each of these Furoshikis is printed with, and has a design inspired by, each of these plant elements; nettle leaves, oak galls and dock roots. The project started with one question, 'Can we make a screen printing ink with local plants that can print on fabric and resist washing?' And in the search for the answer they encountered something more valuable, a slow and enjoyable process, that connected them more with surroundings and that opened doors to more questions. The slowness of the whole process involved reading about plants, foraging them, drawing and writing their names to create patterns, making screens with the designs, making ink from them, preparing the fabric to be printed, printing it, steaming it, neutralizing it, and sewing the edges. The slowness also made us think about the value of the origin of the consumed products, about their toxicity, about the enjoyment of the process of making something from scratch, selecting and manipulating each of the ingredients used and about the concept of durability. All of these topics that were already a concern to William Morris two centuries ago, who wrote 'We are only the trustees for those who come after us'.

William Morris didn’t often comment on dress. Dress in Victorian times was (by contemporary standards) restrictive, formal and gendered. According to a lecture given at the forest school by Mhairi Muncaster (Development manager at WM gallery), Morris believed in what he called ‘artistic dress’ which was comfortable and more loose-fitting. He also provoked controversy by saying that women should reject their crinoline and corsets because of their un-comfortability. “Do not allow yourself to be upholstered like armchairs” he is quoted as saying in one 1880s lecture. In his visions which stretched far into the past and inconceivably to the future (now present day in the 21st c.), we think Morris imagined that we could all wear clothes like monks do: fabrics designed for simplicity and upmost comfort (a necessary aspect of life when extended periods of prayer and contemplation are prerequisite!). The belief that form and function must find equilibrium in clothing carries through to Morris’s commitment to fabric design. Morris held nature as the ultimate inspiration, and concurrently the depictions of nature found in medieval illuminated manuscripts. From the Harley Manuscript in the British museum, which depicts the Garden of Pleasure from Le Roman De La Rose, he wrote in one essay that ‘a garden should clothe the house’ (Braesel 2004), drawing direct connections between pleasure, function, comfort, and Morris’ idea of cloth. Some of Morris’ fabrics would be sold as dress lining in the late 19th and early 20th c. but it wasn’t until the 1960’s that ‘Granny Takes a trip’ would reimagine his curtain and upholstery fabric as fully fledged jackets, popularised iconically by George Harrison. Morris’ ideas from socialism are well documented, with crucial ideas such as the preservation of ancient buildings for future generations and the ‘just price’ for manufactured products being no doubt influential precursors to the contemporary ideals of social and sustainable design. For this project, we have decided to reimagine the concept of artistic dress for the young creatives of the 2020’s. Nothing seems more ftting and more comfortable than the tracksuit. The most accessible, universal and utilitarian dress of our day, worn by creatives and non-creatives alike. With the luxury of digital technology and mechanised processes, the handmade can become affordable, bridging a gap that Morris wasn’t able to. Machine rendered recreations of the original patterns are carved into photographic emulsion with upmost precision, and within a couple of hours, a screen print can be prepared that would have taken Morris’ workers weeks. This enables the hand printed fabric components to be hand assembled by skilled craftspeople in so much as an afternoon.

By ANNA GERMAN

By CHLOE HULSE

CERAMICS, BY CECILY LOVEYS JERVOISE

by patrick thomas

Patrick Thomas is a graphic artist, author and educator. He studied at Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art in London before relocating to Barcelona in 1991. He currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany. He has exhibited his limited-edition silkscreens across five continents, where many are now held in private and public collections. He has lectured and held many workshops worldwide, extensively in the UK and Spain. In 2005 he published Black & White, a compilation of his work for the International Press. In 2011 his Protest Stencil Toolkit was published by Laurence King, UK. A revised edition was released in April 2019. In April 2018 he was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 Front Row about his twenty-four hour public installation Breaking News in Liverpool for RRU News an independent art organisation funded by the Arts Council of Great Britain and Liverpool City Council. The project was since developed and shown in London, Manchester, Seoul, Novi Saad and Rome. In 2019 he created Open Collab a self-run workshop format to enable and encourage collaboration, dialogue and experimentation between participants. In March 2020 a free online platform was launched during Covid-19 lockdown to enable remote real-time collaboration. Since its launch thousands of creatives have participated worldwide. Since October 2013 he is a professor at ABK-Stuttgart. He is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale and in Spring 2019 he was invited for a seven week residency at Deutsche Akademie Rom Villa Massimo, the German Academy in Rome. In January 2020 his artwork for The Berliner Philharmoniker was shortlisted for a Grammy.

Thank you for visiting!

To see more works produced by Storybox Collective as part of this project and to learn more about these fantastic makers and their work please visit:

https://thestoryboxcollective.org.uk