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2011 William Morris Events in the United Kingdom

Events Sponsored by the William Morris Society, UK

Unless otherwise stated events are at Kelmscott House Museum starting at 2.15 p. m.


members and seniors £6;
non-members £8;
students £4.

Please write a separate check for each visit.

Mark your envelope "tickets," enclose a stamped addressed envelope, and send to:

William Morris Society
Kelmscott House Museum
26 Upper Mall, Hammersmit,
London W6 9TA

For more information about any event please call the office on 020 8741 3735 or email william.morris@care4free.net.

Disclaimer: Attendees participate in events at their own risk; neither the Society, its officers, nor the organisers of any events accept any liability of any kind whatsoever, howsoever arising. The William Morris Society reserves the right to cancel, alter, or postpone events if necessary. Members are reminded that they should have adequate personal and travel insurance. No refunds unless cancelled by the Society, in which case a credit note will be given. Kindly note that the Society's premises have limited wheelchair access. The William Morris Society and Kelmscott Fellowship: Registered Charity No. 261437.

Saturday, 29 January, 2.15 p.m.
Daniel Robbins on: Frederic Leighton
Frederic Leighton’s reputation derives, in part, from the position he occupied at the forefront of British art of the late nineteenth century. From his position as the President of the Royal Academy he contributed to many aspects of contemporary cultural life, participating in innumerable campaigns and issues of the time. However, this talk will focus on his achievements as a practicing artist of great ambition, drive and technical accomplishment and explore the critical reaction to his output. Daniel Robbins is the Senior Curator at Leighton House Museum and was responsible for the recent refurbishment project. He is working on a new edition of the guidebook to the museum and an exhibition about the architect of the house, George Aitchison.

Saturday, 19 February, 2.15 p.m.
Tiles and Taste: The Search for Lucy Orrinsmith
Lucy Orrinsmith (née Faulkner), who had been employed by Morris and Co. before her marriage, was commissioned to write The Drawing Room: Its Decoration and Furniture as part of the Art at Home series, a highly successful collection of domestic advice manuals aimed explicitly at a growing lower middle-class readership. Exposing the difficulties of using this book as a conventional source of information on the Victorian interior, this presentation paper aims to recover the hidden history of Orrinsmith and to explain her involvement with the Art at Home series. Emma Ferry received her doctorate for interdisciplinary research carried out on Macmillan’s Art at Home series (1876–83) in December 2004. She has published widely on nineteenth women’s involvement in interior design and currently works as a Senior Lecture in Design and Visual Culture at the School of Art & Design, Nottingham Trent University.

Saturday, 26 March, 2.15 p.m.
One Man Out: William Morris and the Aesthetic Movement
Morris is usually described as a progenitor of the Aesthetic Movement, which is to be commemorated by an important exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum starting in April. Yet Morris, as a follower of Ruskin, was hostile to some aspects of that movement, particularly as it was associated with the idea of Art for Art's Sake. It is this apparent contradiction that will be considered in this lecture by Peter Faulkner, a former Honorary Secretary of the Society and editor of the Journal of William Morris Studies. Following this talk we will have our annual celebration of Morris’s birthday with wine and cake.

Tuesday, 29 March, 11.00 a.m.
Visit to the William Morris Gallery
Curator-led behind the scenes tour. A last opportunity to see the gallery before it closes at the end of the month when its multi-million pound redevelopment begins. We will hear about the plans for the gallery and see treasures from the storerooms, as well as being able to view the current exhibition on the gallery’s new acquisition, the Peacock and Bird carpet. Meet at the entrance of the gallery.

Saturday, 21 May, 2.15 p.m.
The William Morris Society’s 56th Annual General Meeting
This year’s meeting will take place in the Coach House of Kelmscott House.
The Morris Kitsch Archive is an installation created by artist David Mabb that contains over 700 images of commercially produced domestic objects decorated with the textile and wallpaper designs of William Morris. Following the meeting, David Mabb will give the Penelope Fitzgerald Memorial Address by considering the implications of the way in which Morris’ designs have been appropriated for a mass consumer society. The meeting will conclude with tea and biscuits. Admission free.

Saturday, 11 June, 2–5 p.m.
Garden Party
Joy and Jock Birney, who live in the main part of Kelmscott house, are once again generously opening their garden and house to members and their guests on this afternoon, when tours of the main house for small groups will be available. Refreshments will be served. £7 members, £9 non-members.

Sunday, 12 June, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Open Gardens
The William Morris Society will be participating in the Open Gardens Weekend by inviting visitors to view the gardens at Kelmscott House as well to look around the Society's museum. We need your help with greeting visitors, providing refreshments etc. Contact our Curator, Helen Elletson at the WMS Office.

Other Events


Through 12 February
Fancy and Imagination: Beardsley and the Book Illustrators
Sidney and Aubrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds, Leeds
Treasures of book illustration from the University of Leeds collections and private collections. The exhibition celebrates the richness and variety of this medium in the vibrant period between 1890 and the 1920s, including major illustrators such as Aubrey Beardsley, Arthur Rackham, Harry Clarke, Edmund Dulac, Walter Crane, Kate Greenaway, Kay Nielsen and Jessie M. King.

21 January–31 March
The Peacock and the Bird Carpet
William Morris Gallery, London
This spectacular and newly acquired "peacock and bird" carpet will be the focus of our spring exhibition. On public display for the first time, this is a wonderful opportunity to explore Morris’s pioneering revival of the art of the hand-knotted carpet. A wide range of sources, from historic photographs of the Merton Abbey works to Morris’s own lectures on carpet making, will be used to contextualise this fabulous acquisition.

29 January–15 May
The Poetry of Drawing: Pre-Raphaelite Designs, Studies and Watercolours
Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Birmingham
This major exhibition is the largest survey of Pre-Raphaelite drawings and watercolours ever staged. It displays works from Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery’s world-class collections alongside key loans from public and private lenders, including important drawings by D.G. Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and Edward Burne-Jones that have never previously been exhibited.

2 April–17 July
The Cult of Beauty: The Aeshtetic Movement 1860–1900
Victoria and Albert Mueum, London
This is the first major exhibition to comprehensively explore Aestheticism, an extraordinary artistic movement which sought to escape the ugliness and materialism of the Victorian era by creating a new kind of art and beauty. The well spring of the "new art" movements of the late 19th century, Aestheticism is now acknowledged for its revolutionary re-negotiation of the relationships between the artist and society, between the "fine" and design arts, as well as between art and ethics and art and criticism. Aesthetic sensibilities produced some of the most sophisticated and sensuously beautiful artworks of the Western tradition. Featuring superb artworks from the traditional high art of painting, to fashionable trends in architecture, interior design, domestic furnishings, art photography and new modes of dress, this exhibition traces Aestheticism's evolution from the artistic concerns of a small circle of avant-garde artists and authors to a broad cultural phenomenon. The exhibition will feature paintings, furniture, ceramics, metalwork, wallpapers, photographs and costumes, as well as architectural and interior designs. Included will be major paintings by Whistler, Rossetti, Leighton, and Burne-Jones. Architecture and interior design will be represented by the works of Edward Godwin, George Aitchison, Philip Webb and Thomas Jeckyll, among others. Art furnishings designed by these and others, including William Morris, Christopher Dresser, Bruce Talbert, Henry Batley, and Walter Crane will showcase not only the designers and manufacturers they worked for, but also new retailers, such as Liberty's.

Talks, Lectures, Concerts, and Conferences

Wednesday, 2 February, 7 p.m.
Morris, Antiscrape and the Preservation of Heritage
William Morris Gallery, London
In 1877 William Morris and other notable members of the Pre Raphaelite brotherhood founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. They were deeply concerned that well-meaning architects were scraping away the historic fabric of too many buildings in their zealous "restorations." Thus SPAB was brought into existence, nicknamed "antiscrape" by Morris, it is the largest, oldest and most technically expert national pressure group, defending our heritage. Its secretary Philip Venning will give us the story of its existence and work today.

Thursday, 24 March, 7 p.m.
William Morris Today and Tomorrow (William Morris Birthday Lecture)
William Morris Gallery, London
Ian McQueen is one of the UK's leading theater composers and a community artist, a lifelong fan of Morris. His latest work is a choral symphony, Earthly Paradise – Sayings, Songs and Poems of William Morris. Scored for a large orchestra and choir, it was commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and the four movements refer to the life of the great Victorian poet, designer and political activist. It was broadcast from the Barbican Hall earlier in the year. Ian McQueen’s talk will show how Morris can be a source, especially for artists, for thought and action in today's world, an influence that has inspired him throughout his life and a timely reminder of Morris work in a period of massive economic austerity. Tickets required, contact the gallery for details.

Friday, 25 March, 6 p.m.
The Fin-de-Siècle New Man and the Neo-Victorian Neo-Man
University of Hull, Hull
Hull's Annual Victorian Lecture given by Maragret D. Stetz, Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women's Studies, University of Delaware. Precedes the conference, "Neo-Victorian Art and Aestheticism."

Saturday, 26 March
Neo-Victorian Art and Aestheticism
University of Hull, Hull
Keynote speaker: Dr. Marie-Luise Kohlke (Swansea University), editor of the Journal of Neo-Victorian Studies. Since the 1960s, contemporary culture has frequently returned to a Victorian (and broader 19th-century) past in order to explore questions of identity, modernity, nostalgia, and the present period’s sense of belatedness. This mode of historical engagement reached especially prominent levels in the 1990s and at the turn of the millennium. In each of these returns, be it in the form of literature, visual arts, film, drama, radio and television adaptation, or fashion and consumer culture, the Victorians have dominated the prevalent understanding of ‘the past’ as something which can be re-created, the lost but simultaneously haunting and spectral presence which underlines our sense of the now.

Saturday, 2 April, 7 p.m.
Friends Open House at the William Morris Gallery
William Morris Gallery, London
Take this opportunity to see the Gallery in its entirety, a last look at the building and its facilities before it closes for redevelopment on 3 April 2011. We will be showing small groups of 6-8 around the entire Gallery from basement to attic, a chance to look into the nooks and crannies. You will be able to see the need for and the potential of the building for the redevelopment plan. Please note we will not be looking at the objects in store just the building. Tickets requried, contact the gallery for details.

Saturday, 7 May
Visit to Little Coppice Nursery

Organized by the William Morris Gallery, London
Something different for spring, Little Coppice is an Arts and Crafts nursery a family-run smallholding, propagating plants according to environmentally friendly methods.

Come with us to see the house and grounds, enjoy afternoon tea and cake (included in the price), you may even want to pick up something special for your garden. To quote the owners: "The garden can become a place of beauty, a piece of art, and be a labour of love for yourself and others."

Built in 1902 by the celebrated Arts & Crafts designer C. R. Ashbee, Little Coppice is an attractive grade II listed building decorated and furnished in keeping with the Arts & Crafts style. Outside the house, the seven-acre site encompasses an English cottage garden, woodland, heathland, wilderness area, pergolas, ponds, stable block, and a working plant nursery.

Contact the gallery for details.