March 27, 2008

Morris & Co.

"Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."

William Morris 1834 to 1896

These are the words of William Morris, famous pattern designer during the 1800's and the man behind the firm Morris & Co. Although I couldn't find his birth date anywhere, the man must be a Taurus, because those words pretty much sum up how I feel. Taurus' are famous for having homes of comfort, grace and beauty.

I went to the Christchurch Art Gallery today with a friend and took in the William Morris exhibit which completely blew me away. I have never heard of him prior to this day, but his art seems comfortably familiar and I'm sure I have seen it before, or something very similar. I imagine he has influenced countless artists.

Pimpernel wallpaper, 1896

This guy was a master of patterns. He used British plants, flowers, birds and fruit in most of his motifs for fabric, wallpaper, carpets and tapestries. And what most extraordinary was these designs were all applied by hand, using hand-carved wooden blocks.

Strawberry Thief, 1883

Not only are the prints amazing in their detail and color, but most were designed to repeat seamlessly, especially the wallpapers.

He was one talented man. He and his wife also did amazing hand-embroidered tapestries, most using heavy silk thread on silk. These pieces seemed to positively glow on the walls of the gallery today.

The above tapestry looks small on my blog, but in real life they are enormous. One like this would be about 8 feet long. He also did furniture, tiles, textiles, stained glass, books and ceramics. That was one talented dude.

Membland tile motif

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