From the announcement in the Spring newsletter:
William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) was a revolutionary force in Victorian Britain whose work dramatically changed the fashions and ideologies of the era. As a craftsman, designer, poet, printer, socialist, novelist, and environmentalist, Morris was not only influential in his own time, but his legacy remains alive and important today. The Arts and Crafts Movement was greatly inspired by his artistic and political ideas, espousing a dislike of the increasingly industrial world of Victorian Britain and mass produced, machine-made items. The group thought that industrialisation was linked to the nation’s social, moral and artistic decline, and advocated the revival of traditional handicrafts using medieval, romantic or folk decoration styles.
We will be visiting Kelmscott House, Morris’ London home, seeing examples of his work, and hearing about his work and life in Hammersmith, and his group of friends including George Bernard Shaw, Gustav Holst, Burne- Jones and others. Then we will have a very brief stroll to the pub for lunch.
The Dove is a Grade II listed public house dating from the early 18th century. A number of historical figures have been associated with the pub beside the river Thames, Among these are Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingway, Dylan Thomas and William Morris who lived next door. James Thomson is said to have written the words for the 1740 song Rule, Britannia! there.
This historic area along the Thames is a charming place for a walk and visit. It offers even more riverside pubs for coffee after lunch overlooking Hammersmith Bridge.
From the report in the Summer newsletter:
The Friday morning of our visit was one of those perfect early summer days on the Thames, and our lecturer Pete Smith was able to take us back to a time around 150 years ago when William Morris and his colleagues and friends like Rosetti and Burn-Jones met, collaborated, and discussed politics, literature and art at this spot on the banks of the Thames.
William Morris was born into privilege and had the fortune of a good education and the support of his family to follow his interests. After a walking holiday in France and Belgium, he decided to dedicate his life to art and nature instead of religion, and studied embroidery design, painting, architecture, sculpture, furniture design, and even made himself his own suit of armour. He was a prime mover of the Arts and Crafts movement, and contributed to the revival of the British textile arts and of course, wallpaper design.
He married Jane Burden, who was also his model and an artist in her own right. She often modeled for Rossetti, but is the subject of Morris’ only completed easel painting ‘Belle Iseault’. In this painting, it is clear from the variety and richness of textiles where his true talents would lie.
Our lecturer gave us an amazing insight into the life and talents of a true renaissance man: Morris was an astonishingly talented and multi faceted individual. Kelmscott House was his London residence with Jane, and there he also decided to try his hand at carpet making (building his own loom!), created his own Kelmscott Press to publish his articles, Morris and Co (complete decorating firm), and started the Hammersmith Socialist League.
After our excellent lecture, we looked at examples of his work with renewed interest and understanding, and followed in the footsteps of Morris to the Dove pub to let it all sink in over a lovely lunch on a beautiful sunny afternoon. Hammersmith has quite an exciting history- literary, artistic and political!
This event took place on Friday 21 June.