Yesterday -- the last weekday of our winter vacation -- I headed up to Walthamstow to see the William Morris Gallery. Morris was a Victorian designer known for his elaborate and fanciful fabrics and wallpapers, and he and the other designers working in his firm also created stained glass windows, embroidery, furniture and other items. The gallery is a public museum in a house where Morris lived as a teenager, surrounded by grounds that are now a public park.
This is another idea I got from "The Ink Black Heart." One of the characters visited the gallery, which reminded me that I'd never been there. This book is really getting me out and about! I also texted one of my co-workers, Chris, and invited him along. With school about to begin on Monday, I needed to reawaken my social skills.
It was an interesting visit. I didn't know anything about Morris, really, and I'm sure his designs must have seemed stunning to his fellow Victorians, who were used to dark, cluttered drawing rooms. This 1883 wallpaper, Honeysuckle, is attributed to Morris's daughter, May, who also designed for the company.
This cotton fabric is called Brother Rabbit, from 1882. Many of the wallpaper and fabric designs were printed using woodblocks, and it took lots of blocks to complete the designs.
Morris was also a book designer and publisher, an artist and poet, and something of a rabble-rouser, a Socialist class warrior who wanted to smash barriers. He himself married a woman from a poorer family, an unconventional union at the time, and he railed against police treatment of the working classes, though he was treated quite gently when his political demonstrations got him arrested.
Here's a woven tapestry designed by Morris and his frequent collaborator, Edward Burne-Jones, depicting the Knights of the Round Table departing on their search for the Holy Grail. On the left is Queen Guinevere handing Sir Lancelot his shield; on the right, Sir Gawain accepts a spear from an attendant. Morris was very into mythology and legends, and he loved the craftsmanship of the medieval era, finding modern industrialization dehumanizing. This is one of several tapestries with Arthurian themes that were designed for Stanmore Hall, a country house in Harrow, North London.
After checking out the museum we walked around the park and then had a late lunch at a pizza place on the way back to the tube station. It was kind of a hipster pizza place -- I had sweet potato on mine, and Chris had avocado on his. They were good but we ate pretty late so I skipped dinner last night!