16 September 2013

At the William Morris Gallery

The gallery was renovated recently and won Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year 2013, which means it gets to display this wonderful bowl for a year -
Enamelled in silver by the craftsman Vladmir Bohm, it represents the act of giving and offering.

Before taking in the museum exhibits, I had to make a note of this upcoming activity, "colouring-in for adults", part of The Big Draw -
Displayed near the cafe, these charming inkwells with quill pens printed with Wm Morris designs - and portrait -
Looking quickly round the ground floor (more rooms are upstairs), I encountered a guided tour in this splendid display/education room -
The guide's talk included information on how Morris dyed his fabrics and threads. Since the invention of synthetic dyes (the first, mauveine, in 1856) and public enthusiasm for their bright colours, knowledge of natural dyeing was disappearing fast, so Morris practically had to reinvent this technology. It took him 10 years to get indigo to his satisfaction.

In the nearby room is the Battye tapestry, designed by May Morris and stitched with naturally-dyed silks; here's a small detail -
Sample books from Morris & Co -
Much brighter conditions in the cafe, where the south-facing part of the roof is designed to provide some relief from bright sunshine (if only...) -
 The house was built in the 1740s and was Morris's family home from 1848 to 1856.

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