Winning Tribute to Crafts Master - Museum of the Year
A brisk and beautiful stroll through wood-floored rooms, housing examples of Morris's furniture and textiles, and lucid explanations of his life story
Nick Curtis, Evening Standard
Hooray for the Art Fund. If it hadn’t given the £100,000 Museum of the Year award to Walthamstow’s William Morris Gallery, I might never have made the pilgrimage. This exquisite Georgian villa was home to Morris’s family after his father’s death in 1848. It has been dedicated to the work and life of London’s great “craftsman, designer, retailer, socialist” (as the first room dubs him, among other titles) since it was opened as a museum by Clement Attlee in 1950.
It’s a brisk and beautiful stroll through wood-floored rooms, housing examples of his furniture and textiles, and lucid explanations of his life story, his utopian ideals and his complex relationships with colleagues including Rosetti and Burne-Jones. If anything, the fabrics and wallpapers express Morris’s belief that “beauty is a human need” better than the explanatory panels. The Utrecht Velvet that was used on Titanic, and fabrics inspired by tributaries to the Thames, are particularly lovely.
There’s a changing display showcasing other designers from Morris & Co, and a fine display of paintings by Frank Brangwyn, who was briefly an apprentice at the firm, and whose bequest helped to found this gallery. Good café, lovely gardens, and it was packed last Friday morning. A worthy winner.
© Evening Standard 2013