Wednesday, 17 October 2018

The WMSC Newfoundland 2018 Slideshow!


From William Morris to Anna Wintour: How Liberty made an art out of fashion

The Liberty of London department store in 1925
It’s this crossover between art and fashion that this exhibition emphasizes. Kate Grenyer talks enthusiastically about Liberty’s first links with the Arts & Crafts movement of the late Victorian period, and how the fabrics became the “talk of the anti-establishment artists of the time”. 
Arthur Lasenby Liberty established his company in 1875. The brand’s initial success owed a lot to the era’s obsession with Japan and China, a cultural trend that could be seen as clearly in furniture and painting as it could in fabric and jewellery.  
Ianthe’ print c1902, originally by French Art Nouveau designer R Beauclair and redrawn by David Haward’s Studio
Most famously, the Victorian Libertys worked with William Morris, who designed some of Liberty’s best-known prints. There’s also a neat link here to the Dovecot, as the studios’ founding weavers learned their craft at Morris’s Merton Abbey workshops in Wimbledon, south London. The first wave of interest in Liberty fabrics coincided with the tellingly named Artistic Dress Movement, which saw women loosen corsets, bodices and waistlines in favour of the billowing, free-flowing styles whose influence could be seen decades later when 1970s hippies took up the Liberty print mantle.  
In Morris’ day, art and fashion were inextricably linked, with women encouraged to seek inspiration for the new styles in Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic paintings, which in turn were filled with references to Medieval Europe and Ancient Greece.   
And that’s not to mention the links between Liberty and Art Nouveau (in Italy the term “Stile Liberty” was in fact coined to describe Art Nouveau style), Liberty and Bauhaus, Liberty and Pop Art.
A 1960 Liberty silk and satin embroidered kaftan
Read the full article HERE

Thursday, 11 October 2018

An Eco Alternative to H&M's Morris Collection

By Lera Kotsyuba


Finding a Morris print has ben akin to finding a needle in a haystack. Scouring vintage and estate sales, online sleuthing, buying upholstery fabric and crafting something yourself. With Morris & Co running along the lines of interior design, how were we to show off our Morrisian pride through our fashion?

William Morris was an ardent Socialist, supporter of craft, love of labour, and worker's rights. But he could never reconcile the high prices of handmade work, with affordability for the working class. And we see this same struggle today.


Last holiday season, luxury fashion brand LOEWE launched a Morris collection. Beautiful, but with high prices and questionable ethics, as their supply chain is monitored by, in essence, themselves. And with high prices for luxury goods, how are working class Morrisians to afford LOEWE's clothing and accessories?


And this year, fast-fashion giant H&M launched their own collaboration with Morris & Co, featuring some iconic prints, and Morrisian slogans that seem ironic in context, given Morris' Socialist ideals. Polyester? No thanks! Releasing microplastics with every wash into the water? Certainly not what Morris would have wanted, and neither do we.

The Alternative?

UK-Based, Fair Trade Brand "People Tree"!


The brand has been committed to Fair Trade since 1991!
Read their credentials here.

"People Tree has been a pilot case for certification for Fair Trade Manufacture under the World Fair Trade Organisation and we were the world’s first clothing company to receive the World Fair Trade Organisation Fair Trade product mark in 2013.
SUSTAINABLE FASHION
People Tree developed the first integrated supply chain for organic cotton from farm to final product and we were the first organization anywhere to achieve GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certification on a supply chain entirely in the developing world.
People Tree also works hard to ensure that they pioneer sustainable methods of production to minimize environmental impact. Not only is the majority of their cotton certified organic and Fairtrade, all their clothes are dyed using safe and azo-free dyes. They source as many products as they can locally, choosing natural and recycled products over synthetic and non-biodegradable materials. They ship as many of their products as they can by sea, instead of air, and weave fabric by hand, reducing our impact on global warming."
Held to a sustainable and Fair Trade standard by a 3rd party organization? Check!

Commitment to worker's rights and craftsmanship? Check!

Take a Look


And while they don't have exact Morris prints, their range of V&A inspired prints will send your Morrisian heart swooning!

Find the collection here:



Monday, 8 October 2018

The Oscar Wilde Temple



3 October 2018–31 March 2019


Twenty years in the making, The Oscar Wilde Temple is a wholly immersive work of art and secular space honouring one of the earliest forebears of gay liberation whilst commemorating contemporary LGBTQ+ martyrs and those lost to the AIDS crisis.
This will be the first–ever institutional exhibition of McDermott & McGough’s work in the UK and will provide audiences with an important opportunity to experience the artists’ groundbreaking work first–hand.
For this major new commission, the most ambitious in Studio Voltaire’s history, the entirety of the gallery, a Victorian former chapel, will be dramatically transformed to create an environment that wholly celebrates the Irish poet and author. Period wallpaper, stained glass windows, hangings and 19th century chandeliers and furniture adorn the space, evoking the provocative sensuousness of the Aesthetic Movement.
David McDermott (1952) and Peter McGough (1958) have worked collaboratively since 1980, achieving notoriety in the bohemian downtown quarters of New York with their performative ‘time machine’ experiments. This all encompassing gesamtkunstwerk saw their dress, home, and art studios (down to the materials and techniques they deployed) remain strictly faithful to late 19th and early 20th centuries. By refusing the contemporary present in favour of fabricating their own queer version of the past, McDermott & McGough asserted a revolutionary queer agency well ahead of their time. Their practice is a singular and prescient voice among the numerous politicised and activist artists that emerged into the mainstream during the AIDS crisis.
Studio Voltaire
1A Nelson's Row
London SW4 7JRUnited Kingdom

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Uncommon Threads: Kelmscott Manor


Some STUNNING photos from Victoria magazine. Click on the image for the full article!

"Surrounded by a higgledy-piggledy fence and all manner of cottage-garden flora, the gray limestone farmhouse known as Kelmscott Manor was once the home of British textile designer William Morris and his family. Though Morris received much acclaim for his work throughout his life, his exceptionally talented daughter May more often than not lived in her father’s shadow. She eventually took over his business, Morris & Co., but it is only in recent years that her design genius and needlework expertise have received the recognition they deserve."


Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Guest Post: William Morris Wall-Papers


By Nilda Lopez

I could wax poetic on the virtues and talents of William Morris (1834-1896), such as his renowned association with the British Arts and Crafts movement, his contribution to the revival of textiles, the way he established concepts of modern fantasy, and his socialist endeavours. Instead, lets view this rare trade catalogue published by the Morris & Company Decorators in London, ca. 1910.

On April 11, 1861, Morris and several colleagues formed Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Company. The firm’s first products were mural decorations, architectural drawings, stained glass, metalwork and furniture. The partnership dissolved by 1875, but Morris reorganized the business as Morris & Company, moving to Oxford Street by 1877. Morris’s textiles were first restricted to embroidery and did not use “modern” industrial techniques. His textiles and wallpapers were the earliest and most important part of his work as an interior designer and manufacture.

(Lily and Pomegranate, Honeysuckle)

Known for a medievalist style and use of naturalistic imagery, between 1862 and 1866, three repeating patterns for wallpaper Daisy, Trellis and Fruit (Pomegranate) became his most famous and popular item for sale. An excerpt from the trade catalog shows two examples of wallpapers, Lily and Pomegranate and Honeysuckle. The descriptions ‘sell’ the images by providing colour characteristics. Although this catalog is not in colour it still highlights the beauty and artistry of the wallpaper. Morris produced these patterns not just on wallpaper, but on textiles as well. Cooper Hewitt’s collection holds several examples of wallpapers and textiles by Morris & Company, such as the Trellis and Tulip and Rose  patterns.

Morris entrusted production to Jeffrey and Company of Islington, which used modern distemper colours and strategically placed wood blocks for manufacturing. This lead to the height of Morris & Company’s commercial success in the mid-1880s. Morris’s death in 1896 did not result in a decrease in production, but by the end of the 19th century his patterns had fallen out of fashion. In 1905, a board of directors were established with the hope of reviving past popularity. Lack of raw materials and workers, along with the impending World War, lead to the voluntary liquidation of the firm by March 21, 1940. Sanderson has continued to successfully use Morris’s prints and are producing them on wallpaper, textile and prints available today.

Nilda Lopez is the Library Technician at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Summer Book Club: "Craeft" by Alexander Langlands


While there has been no get-together this summer for the book club, we still encourage everyone to pick up a copy of this book for some late-summer reading! 

In Craeft, archeologist and medieval historian Alexander Langlands takes us on a journey as he delves into the origins of the word. Following his adventures into traditional practices that have since become more industrial, Langlands explores traditional methods of bee-keeping, weaving, sheep herding, grass cutting, and fashioning tools. 



Happy Reading!