Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Advent 2017 :: Day 12

It has become something of a tradition each December that I make time for a day out to visit an exhibition... a day when I'm not thinking about Christmas making and baking. This year I visited a museum that I have never visited before (cue sixty x sixty) despite having grown up and gone to school not a million miles away. In fact it took a friend from New York to introduce this North London girl to the delights of the William Morris Gallery

Orange Tree - embroidery by May Morris

On Friday I met up with my blogging friend Frances and we went to see May Morris: Art and Life, a wonderful exhibition exploring the life and work of William Morris's youngest daughter, one of the most significant artists of the Arts and Crafts movement. The exhibition covers the whole breadth of her creative pursuits from embroidery to wallpaper design, costume to jewellery as well as the most delightful sketches and watercolours. And all this is set against the story of her life and her role in the Socialist and Feminist movements. It is beautifully curated and quite fascinating.

"I am a remarkable woman - always was, though none of you seemed to think so" May Morris 1936

After a lovely lunch in the cafe, (I can recommend the smoked mackerel sandwich) we took some time to explore the rest of the museum which has rooms dedicated to intoducing William Morris and his childhood, his early influences, the rise of Morris & Co., plus an insight into both his workshop and the company showroom. There are also rooms dedicated to his love of literature and typography, his efforts to create a free and fair world and his far reaching influence and enthusiasm for quality materials and craftsmanship. There really is masses to see and plenty of interactive exhibitions for the younger members of the family... I couldn't resist a bit of brass rubbing but I reluctantly passed by the dressing up clothes!


The house itself is a gem in the heart of Walthamstow, a beautiful Georgian house that was Morris's childhood home, set within Lloyd Park which is now a public recreation ground. The staircase is tastfully decorated for Christmas and the May Morris exhibition, which is free just like entry to the rest of the house, is open until 28th January. It may have taken me sixty years to discovery this beautiful Gallery but I have no doubt I will return.

It was a fabulous day out and wonderful to catch up with Frances again.

13 comments:

  1. William Morris is a bit of a hero of mine. I did a project on him for my embroidery City&Guilds. I love his philosophy and think we would do well to come back to it

    "If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

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  2. Oh I would have definitely enjoyed that exhibition. Last time I had a William Morris experience was at the v and a which was wonderful. B x

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    1. It is definitely a place to visit again, even when there isn't a special exhibition.

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  3. Thanks Gina for your recommendation. Have been wanting to visit this exhibition since reading a really good article on May Morris in The Guardian. Sounds a lovely day. Another good place to go especially at Christmas is Dennis Severs' House in Folgate Street London. Haven't been myself but bought tickets for my sister and her partner. It's apparently very atmospheric and feels as if Dennis himself has just left the room! Bye for now and stat cosy x

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    1. yes - we visited Dennis - vivid memories!

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  4. I am a huge fan of William Morris and have fabrics here featuring his designs. I would have loved to see that exhibition. I visited Kelmscott Manor some years ago which was fascinating.

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  5. We went a while back and it was a lovely exhibition. I particularly liked her spirit which came out in those camping holidays when she was older. Ill probably pop in again before it closes.

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    1. I loved looking through the old photos etc too. She seemed quite adventurous camping in Iceland!

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  6. Sounds like a great day out was had by you both. Have made a note of the gallery as I've never visited.

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  7. Darn it! I stayed in Walthamstow last time I was in London but missed the Morris Gallery. It looks like you had a wonderful time!

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  8. How wonderful to meet up with a blogging friend in real life and go to such an inspiring exhibition. I love william Morris designs.

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  9. I love William Morris.....especially his Brother Rabbit print.

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  10. Someone else for me to research, thank you Gina.

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