William Morris Gallery reopens
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful,” the celebrated Victorian designer and craftsman William Morris once famously said.
True to this famous adage, the gallery that bears his name has fittingly been repaired, restored and rejuvenated in a stylish manner, and is, as of August 2nd 2012, once again open to the public to enjoy.
One of the most significant developments has been in expanding the building to create more space, work which has been overseen by architects Pringle Richards Sharratt.
“The main challenge was to design an extension which was in keeping with the main building, which was built in 1740, and was the home of Morris between 1848 and 1865,” explained John Pringle, a director at the firm.
“This is considered a very important building. There was a wing on the side of the building which was demolished in 1900. This project was about putting back a wing, but also conveying something of its new use. It is no longer a domestic house; it has been a gallery for 60 years.”
The exquisite Grade ll listed Georgian building, based in Lloyd Park, Walthamstow, north-east London, had been at risk of closure until a much-welcome donation from the Heritage Lottery Fund rescued it from ruin. It was matched by the London Borough of Waltham forest.
For the first time, Morris’ extensive collection of work, from textiles to wallpapers to ceramics and books, is being permanently shown in a purposeful and artistic space, as is befitting a man who championed the beauty of aesthetics.
The first unfixed exhibition sees Grayson Perry pay tribute to Morris with his Walthamstow Tapestry.
Perry, who has cited the Victorian designer as one of his all-time heroes, said: “I love ornate patterns, and this is where he excels. His work has a joyous sense of design that provides visual delight, and is immediately accessible to everyone.”