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William Morris Gallery, viewed from the front

The William Morris Gallery, opened by Prime Minister Clement Attlee in 1950, is the only public museum devoted to English Arts and Crafts, designer William Morris. The Gallery is located at Walthamstow in Morris's family home from 1848 to 1856, the former Water House, a substantial Grade II* listed[1] Georgian dwelling of about 1750 which is set in its own extensive grounds (now Lloyd Park).

Contents

About

William Morris Gallery, from Forest Road

The Gallery's collections illustrate Morris' life, work and influence. There are permanent displays of printed, woven and embroidered fabrics, rugs, carpets, wallpapers, furniture, stained glass and painted tiles designed by Morris himself and by Edward Burne-Jones, Philip Webb, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Ford Madox Brown, and others who together founded the firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Company in 1861.

Outstanding exhibits include: Morris' medieval-style helmet and sword, made as 'props' for the Pre-Raphaelite murals at the Oxford Union; the original design for Trellis (the earliest of Morris' many wallpapers); the Woodpecker tapestry woven at Morris' Merton Abbey workshops; the Beauty and the Beast and Labours of the Months tile panels; and The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer printed at Morris' Kelmscott Press. Other exhibits — such as the satchel in which Morris carried out his Socialist pamphlets, or the coffee cup he used on his weekly visits to the Burne-Joneses — provide a more personal glimpse of his busy life.

The Gallery also has displays of furniture, textiles, ceramics and glass by Morris' followers in the Arts and Crafts Movement, which flourished from the 1880s to the 1920s. Among those represented are Arthur Heygate Mackmurdo and the Century Guild, William De Morgan, May Morris, Ernest Gimson, Sidney Barnsley, George Jack, C. F. A. Voysey, Harry Powell, Selwyn Image, Henry Holiday, and Christopher Whall.

The collections of applied art are complemented by the Brangwyn Gift of paintings, drawings and prints by the Pre-Raphaelites and other Victorian and later artists, as well as works by Sir Frank Brangwyn himself.

Closure threat

In 2007 the museum faced a closure threat after its opening hours were cut back as a cost-cutting exercise, breaking a stipulation of gifts by Sir Frank Brangwyn, one of Morris' students, that works should be on view for a minimum amount of time weekly. Campaigners against the cuts include former Culture Secretary Chris Smith. [2] Councillor Naz Sarkar, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Arts and Culture says school parties can make a special appointment to visit, and the gallery will be open at weekends, when most people are able to visit. Martin Stuchfield of Friends of the William Morris gallery has expressed fears that this could presage an eventual total closure.[3] A special campaign web site has been set up to oppose the cuts.[4]

To secure the gallery's future supporters founded the William Morris Independent Trust Group and have formed a plan to operate the Gallery as an Independent Trust. As of 2009 the plan is that the gallery would continue in the ownership of the local Council; admission would be free but the gallery would be managed by the Trust, which would obtain its own funding independently of the council. This would make access to outside funding easier.[4]

Notes and references

  1. ^ List of listed buildings in Waltham Forest accessed 24 April 2007
  2. ^ Closure threat to Morris Museum The Observer, 28 January 2007
  3. ^ The William Morris Gallery dispute BBC, 15 January 2007. This also includes a video of the gallery.
  4. ^ a b keepourmuseumsopen.org

External links

Coordinates: 51°35′29″N 0°01′13″W / 51.59125°N 0.02035°W / 51.59125; -0.02035

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