Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The William Morris Gallery...out with the Chintz!

I can hardly believe it but the William Morris Gallery reopens tomorrow! I was lucky enough to go to the private view last week and what I saw was amazing! It's been a long time coming and lots of money has been spent on the regeneration bringing the community a long awaited gallery fit for international visitors as well as a much needed haven for all people in our borough.

The Walthamstow Tapestry on exhibition now!
Apart from the beautiful tapestry by Grayson Perry the gallery has been transformed beyond recognition! And yes I did get to meet him, though briefly, but I did manage to get his photo and have a quick word with him in front of the Walthamstow Tapestry. What a charming and talented man!

Grayson Perry!
A smart extension houses a large exhibition space (this is where the tapestry resides until the end of September) and the tea room/restaurant overlooking the gardens.
On the top floor of the main gallery work shop spaces have sprouted up in the eaves though these weren't open yet but we hear they will be in use to teach school children and members of the community all sorts of craft disciplines. That's a big thumbs up from us on that one!

detail of the tea room's chandeliers and musicians in the new extension overlooking the gardens.

Like a dormant chrysalis that's woken up into a gorgeous butterfly The Gallery is now a lovely airy, bright and beautiful exhibition, educational and meeting space!
Before the regeneration it was nice and homely, in fact sometimes it felt like you've wondered into someone's lounge but it was pretty dark and lifeless. It's almost like it was one of those creepy rooms people leave untouched after their loved one has died...but not anymore, what they've managed to bring to it with the regeneration is a bit of modernity, life and oh yes open windows which means lots of natural light!

a bust of William Morris greets visitors.
It's definitely not chrome and mirrors, that would just be naff... But dare I say that it looks a bit Scandi?! Let me elaborate... Scandi (as in Scandinavian) in the sense that it's bright and clean but with a bit more of design, thought and a welcoming warmth which was achieved through the use of natural materials, the colour pallet and the general flow that takes visitors from room to room.
The large chunky wooden chest of drawers and hanging industrial lights in the back exhibition room wouldn't look out of place in a Swedish café but they serve a purpose rather then compete with the existing Morris & Co. pieces. There's also a bit of technology too by way of touch screens and interactive pieces which are there for people to use and touch unlike before when it felt like you weren't even allowed to walk on the carpet. Obviously you were but it almost felt intrusive having people trampling on them.
The new display furniture and fittings sit harmoniously and if anything showcase even more Morris' work by quietly sitting in the background doing their job letting the Victorian Arts & Crafts pieces shine in a totally new light.

Morris pattern on ceramic tiles.
Back exhibition room looking bright! Love the wooden chests and floors.

Now the pieces seem to breath a different life from what they did in the late 19th and early 20th century, they look contemporary and wouldn't be out of place in today's Arts & Crafts homes. The modern Designer Maker is different from the Victorian one but it's nice to see that good design is timeless and I would happily use Morris's designs in my modern home. I for one was totally inspired by the flooring in one of the small gallery rooms and will now tear up the carpet and try my hand at floor pattern painting.

Lino floor in Morris Pattern (I hope it's Lino, I might be wrong but it's definitely not carpet!) It's inspired me to paint my floors!

William Morris was much more then just a craftsman, an artist, a print maker, a designer he was also a socialist, a poet, a humanist plus a husband and a father.
In fact he was a formidable force which has left a legacy which we should all be proud of!

Socialist banner. Morris was also a great socialist and a man of many layers, ideals and talents.

I am a long time fan and have lived just behind Lloyd Park so I know the gallery well as I have spent many an afternoon in there.
This was a long time ago when Craft Guerrilla was still just a little glimmer in my imagination but it was invaluable in my searching for inspiration and philosophy for the collective.
Morris was and still is one of my main "muses" and his ideals are one of the reasons why I started Craft Guerrilla.
Now it's come full circle...Craft Guerrilla were privileged to have been asked to curate a selection of Designer Maker items for the shop gallery. It's seams like we've also come home...
Thank you William Morris and hopefully one day there might be a Craft Guerrilla Gallery too!

Opens 2nd Of August 2012! For further information, opening times, exhibitions and details on how to get there please visit the WMG web site:

No comments: