Museums United Kingdom

William Morris’s birthplace reopens

Museum in east London celebrates arts and crafts pioneer and his legacy

Morris and Burne-Jonesfamilies, 1874 (Photo: courtesy William Morris Gallery)

The artist, craftsman, writer, bookmaker and firebrand socialist William Morris was said by one of his doctors to have died in 1896 “simply of being William Morris and having done more work than most ten men”. The William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, east London, reopens on 2 August after a £10m revamp of the museum and its surrounding garden and parkland.

The museum is housed in an 18th-century building where Morris was born in 1846 and grew up. Then in the semi-rural outskirts of the capital, it is now surrounded by the suburban sprawl he railed against. Exhibits include fine examples of the artist’s work in print, wallpaper and textiles, and those of his friends including Edward Burne-Jones. The artist Grayson Perry also has a studio in the unfashionable suburb and Perry’s large-scale Walthamstow Tapestry, 2009, features in the inaugural show (until 23 September).

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3 Aug 12
15:17 CET


William Morris has a message for us today living in our post-modern age of information technology and hyper-efficiency. The drive for automation and de-humanisation of enterprise has created wealth for the fortunate few and misery for many of those excluded by elitist education and a failure to educate using a system that can create an understanding of the art of living. Without turning the clock back to the 18th century the future will need to be influenced by visionaries like Morris to promote health and wellbeing through creative endeavours close to nature.

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