of beginnings and endings

The other month my daughter and I went to visit the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, London. It has been a place on my ‘to visit list’ since 2003 when I attended a Victorian Society talk about William Morris given by the then Keeper of the Gallery, Peter Cormack. It has only taken me 20 years to find myself in London with time to spare for a trip to the end of the Victoria Line and make the visit.

Lily and Pomegranate, Wallpaper design – William Morris. Watercolour, gouache, ink and graphite on paper. 1886

Of course, 20 years ago my daughter would have endured the visit as one of mummy’s art trips, but now she is an adult she is genuinely interested in the Arts and Crafts movement, and not just for the beautiful designs.

One of the galleries is called ‘Fighting for a Cause’ with an informative accompanying video presentation. We both found that rather interesting.

Painted and embroidered silk banner. Makers unknown, circa 1890s.

For me the highlights of the visit were to see original drawings by Morris for his designs and, in particular, the watercolour of his very first wallpaper design.

William Morris’s first wallpaper design.
Morris enjoyed garden design and tried to create the feel of a medieval walled garden at Red House. The rose trellis inspired this design. Philip Webb drew the birds.
William Morris and Philip Webb Design for Trellis Wallpaper, 1862, pencil and watercolour on paper.
William Morris and Philip Webb Trellis wallpaper, hand block printed by Morris & Co, 2011.

Also on display were carpet designs in mixed media such as the Wreath Design below and book designs for his private press, Kelmscott Press.

Wreath Carpet Design.
William Morris, 1875-1880, oil on cardboard, pencil, ink and watercolour on paper.
‘A Note by William Morris on his Aims in Founding the Kelmscott Press’.
Kelmscott Press, 1898, paper with quarter holland binding.
The first sentence is: ‘I began printing books with the hope of producing some which would have a definite claim to beauty, while at the same time they should be easy to read. . .’

It was good to finally make a visit to the William Morris Gallery, but it wasn’t well-timed. One display room was closed for the preparation of a temporary exhibition, another gallery was shut for refurbishment and a third was off-limits due to some technical issue.

However, the visit was worthwhile and has provided the ideal subject matter for my final blog post. After all, it was the words of William Morris with which I chose to begin this whole blogging affair when I introduced myself on ‘About Agnes’ quoting – ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.’.

Goodbye from my daughter and I.

Thank you for visiting, reading and commenting. Wishing my fellow bloggers all the best and take care of yourselves, Agnes. x

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Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

8 thoughts on “of beginnings and endings”

  1. I enjoyed seeing the Morris exhibition through your eyes. I’m sorry you have decided to step back from blogging and wish you all the very best. Like the exhibition, you leave us wishing there had been more.

  2. Oh, Agnes, I shall miss you and your posts, which I always looked forward to. If you are ever in Yorkshire, please get in touch. And if I’m in Suffolk, and your website is still active, I’d like to think we could meet. All very best wishes.

    1. Thank you very much Margaret for all you comments and interactions. They have made the whole experience much, much more interesting and sociable than I had ever thought blogging could be. I hope you and your family are all doing fine and wish you all the best, Agnes. x (And, if you are down this way do look me up, although I am in the process of trying to move down to Essex to be closer to London – family and all that as you know.)

      1. So you’re going to be Essex Woman! I hope that’s near enough to East Anglia for you. And that home-hunting isn’t too debilitating. And if you have any plans to visit Yorkshire at any point, I insist on a meeting! x

  3. Perhaps it is as well that your visit to Morris was delayed until such time as your daughter could accompany you as an equal.
    I shall miss your posts, Agnes. While also realising that blogging is an investment of time that we cannot continue indefinitely. I have hours more material than I have time to dedicate.
    Nevertheless, I hope we stay in touch one way or another,
    “Goodbyes are not forever, they are not the end; it simply means I’ll miss you, until we meet again.”

    1. Thanks Gwen, it’s been fun getting to know you through this blogging business and I have to say I have taken far more interest in the affairs of Australia since reading your work on here, and, of course, listening to your brilliantly written and narrated memoir. I know now I am unlikely ever to visit Australia as flying is no longer an option for me. My daughter tries to persuade me that one international flight every four years would be reasonable, but I am not convinced. I’ve been looking into cargo ship voyages, but until I have moved (not going well) I can’t make any plans for any expensive, long haul ventures. Wishing you and Bill and your wider family all the best, Agnes. x (PS. If you do get over to Kent again, hopefully I will have finally moved down to Essex and, well, you’ll just be the other side of the Thames!)

      1. I was considering a writer’s retreat in Morocco early next year, in which case I would def go to England, but have decided against it.

        I didn’t realise you were moving. I’ll look forward to hearing the outcome.
        Freighter trips sound exciting, but the actuality is not so great, I suspect. Another way would be to take a week to do the long-haul flight in hops. An around-the world ticket would probably be the go.

        I’m sure we will meet in time! So much to chat about 🙂 And I’m glad I brought Australia to your attention. Some good came from my scribblings.

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