Wednesday 18 November 2015

News From Nowhere is Feted in Style

The Elizabeth Beeton Auditorium at the Toronto Reference Library was packed last night for William Whitla's talk on William Morris's News From Nowhere, on the 125th anniversary of its publication. Bill was as witty and erudite as ever, leaving some of us needing to re-read the book again, to absorb the element he had illuminated for us. Afterwards, a large part of the audience went to the Pilot Tavern where food and drink were consumed, and the conversation continued for hours. I think Morris would have approved!

Keep up to date on our future events by clicking on the tab above!

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Of Interest

 Have you visited our Of Interest page recently? Click here or on the tab above. Here you'll find current and future events of interest to fans of Morris and his circle of influence. Just announced, Walker Gallery in Liverpool's Pre-Raphaelites: Beauty and Rebellion, featuring some paintings never before seen in public!

Picture: In The Grass, Arthur Hughes © Museums Sheffield

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Fall into Morris

Toronto has been experiencing a beautiful fall, and a busload of WMSC members enjoyed the colours and flavours of Elgin and Norfolk counties here in Ontario during a weekend visit to craft studios and places of architectural interest. You can enjoy member Lera Kotsyuba's wonderful photo gallery here on our Facebook page.

The two remaining events for the year are a much-anticipated talk by wonderful William Whitla at the Toronto Reference Library, on Morris's utopian News from Nowhere, and the annual holiday dinner, of which members will have received information in their latest mailling. Get all the details on our future events here.

Speaking of members... it’s time to renew your WMSC membership for 2016 and enjoy all the activities planned for the year, including a stained-glass tour, the annual birthday celebration (including cake!) and a special one-day symposium. Memberships run from January to December of each year.

Not yet a member? Join us here! Remember, members get priority booking for trips and other events that require registration and have limited numbers.

Photos by Lera Kotsyuba

Sunday 13 September 2015

A Year in Morris: What a Man!

Last week was the occasion of our Annual General Meeting, hosted at the Textile Museum of Canada. The finances were presented, changes in membership fees were discussed, and the current board was re-elected, with the welcome new addition of Dr. Ann Gagné. After a pause for refreshments, past-President John Wichelow gave a lecture titled 1876: A Year in  Morris. This focus on just one year in William Morris's life gave a clear idea of his prodigious output, his personal drive, his devotion to his family, his playfulness and idealogy. With lots of illustrations and excerpts from Morris letters, this felt like a particularly personal profile, and we hope to repeat this structure in years to come. There are quite a few amazing years to cover!

Announcing Yet Another Excellent Fall Excursion

During the last few years, the WMSC has made a tradition of a short Fall excursion to some lovely part of Ontario, which is always particularly beautiful at that time of year.

This year we're heading to Port Stanley, for our Elgin and Norfolk Craft and Heritage Tour. This will take place the weekend of October 17 and 18. Visit our Future Events tab above to get all the details, including a registration form.

WMSC members will have received the opportunity to book early, but now registration is open to all and there are some spots left!

Tuesday 25 August 2015

News From Nowhere - Discussion and Picnic

In celebration of the 125th anniversary of the publication of William Morris's News From Nowhere, a small but potent group of WMSC members attended our book discussion and picnic on Saturday, August 22.

The location was Hanlan's Point, of the Toronto Islands, a 10-minute ferry ride from downtown.

Professor William Whitla gave us a great introduction and led the discussion. For those of you who missed this, Bill will be giving a lecture this November on the same subject. Watch your inbox/mailbox for details!

The weather was perfect, the conversation was fascinating and the company was excellent. There has been a request to do something similar next summer, so if you have any suggestions as to what to read, let us know!

Monday 3 August 2015

Change of Date!

Please note that the News from Nowhere Discussion and Picnic will now take place on Saturday, August 22. The rain date is now Sunday, August 30. Please RSVP for details. See Future Events for all the information.

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Looking Forward

Our St. James Cemetary Walk was postponed for the FOURTH time due to rain! What a summer! So, we're giving up and finding an alternative date in the fall. Fall in Ontario is usually dry and sunny. Fingers crossed!

Thanks to all who came out to Michelle Weinroth's excellent talk on Morris's radicalism, and who joined us at the pub afterwards.

The  next event is the News from Nowhere Book Discussion and Picnic. Led by the erudite and charming Bill Whitla, this is in honour of the 125th anniversary of the publication of William Morris's utopian vision. Click on our Future Events tab for all the details.

Have a great summer... and keep dry!

Wednesday 17 June 2015

Room Location Change!

Please note that tonight's talk will be in room 140 of University College, not room 179 as previously stated. For the rest of the details, please see our Future Events tab under the header.

Tuesday 16 June 2015

The Monsoon Summer, AKA a bit of a Weather Whinge

It's stopped raining for five minutes! As I type, I look out the window and see a strange blue canopy overhead - what can it mean? Okay, enough sarcasm from me.

Our St. James Cemetary walk was postponed for the THIRD Sunday due to rain and thunderstorms. It's been rescheduled for this coming Sunday, June 21. IF this Sunday gets rained out, we'll find a new date in the fall to have the walk, hoping that Toronto hasn't been washed away in its entirety by then.

Join us tomorrow night for Michelle Weinrot's talk on William Morris's Radicalism! All the details are in our Future Events page (see tab below our header), including how to RSVP if you wish to join us at the pub afterwards. Well, you don't HAVE to RSVP, but I'm booking a table for those that do. Those that don't can just show up and hang out at the bar!

Monday 8 June 2015

Rescheduled St. James Cemetary Walk

We have a date for our rescheduled St. James Cemetary Walk: Sunday, June 14 (rain date is Sunday, June 21).

As you might recall, both date options in May were rained out! Today, as I look out the window, it's raining again! Well, at least everything will look lush and green.

Check out the details and more for our future events right here.

Sunday 31 May 2015

Remembering Last March

... because it feels like March!

Ann Gagné, one of our WMSC members, has written a lovely blog post on the Journal of Victorian Culture blog, reviewing our Morris birthday talk and celebration... check it out here!

Staying Dry

Well, it's a droopy Sunday in Toronto. It's May 31st and the weather has dipped below 10 degrees Celsius and it's raining, so we had to postpone our guided walk of St. James Cemetary. Boo! Not to worry, because we're going to find an alternative date.

In the meantime, the website has been updated with events to take us into the fall. Check our Future Events tab (under our masthead) to see what we're getting up to: a talk on Morris and radicalism, a book discussion and picnic inspired by News From Nowhere, and our AGM coupled with a look at a year in Morris's life: 1876.

We hope you'll join us and that, in the meantime, things warm up and you have a splendid start to your summer!

Left: Hanlan's Point, the location of our picnic in August, when things will have hopefully warmed up in Toronto!

Saturday 2 May 2015

Craft Ontario / Craft in Ontario Event

A small but wonderful group of WMSC members gathered at University College for a lecture on the evening of Thursday, April 30.

Janna Hiemstra, of Craft Ontario, and Leopold Kowolski, editor of Studio, the Craft Ontario magazine (and WMSC board member) gave a wonderful background to the evolution of craft in Canada and, specifically, the history of Craft Ontario, formerly the Ontario Crafts Council.

A couple of fun facts: The Women's Art Association of Canada (WAAC, and the roots of Craft Ontario) was founded in 1896, the year of Morris's death.

And the first Toronto shop of the Canadian Handicrafts Guild (founded in 1905) was located where the Craft Ontario shop is now, 84 years later!

Below, from the excellent slide show, William Morris as cover boy on early newsletter of the Ontario Crafts Council (later renamed Craft Ontario).

There was much to learn and discuss and a large part of the audience afterwards spent a couple of hours enjoying good beer, cider and conversation at Prenup Pub on College Street. (We'll be visiting there again, I'm sure!)

Six Short Films About Nova Scotia Craftspeople

An series of short films, focussing on six of Nova Scotia's finest craftspeople, are to be made viewable online, the first one having been released last week.

Ben Proudfoot has directed the shorts, titled Life's Work: Six Conversations with Makers. Here is the trailer containing clips from all six films.

Last week, Stone, focussing on stone carver Heather Lawson was released and widely enjoyed and acclaimed.

Watch each week as the five remaining films will be released on Vimeo: Turns, featuring Steven Kennard will be released on May 5, followed by Mother Earth (May 19), Fibre & Wood (June 2), Lady Bug (June 16), and Rust (June 30).

Life’s Work is a collaboration between Craft Alliance Atlantic Association and the Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council.  Funding for the project was provided by ACOA Nova Scotia and Film and Creative Industries Nova Scotia.

Bravo to all!

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Talks, Walks... Pubs

Our Future Events page has been updated with more information on our events for April, May and June. With the good weather finally, possibly arriving in Toronto, we hope you'll join us for a tour of St. James Cemetery and its striking architecture and beautiful setting. In April and June we feature talks held at University College on the UofT campus. Click on our Future Events tab (above) for all the details. And please join us after each event for a visit to a local pub to raise a pint in best Morris fellowship tradition!

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Happy Birthday William Morris!

Today is the great man's birthday. But last Saturday, a group of 60 or so WMSC members gathered at University College at the U of T on Saturday to celebrate Morris's birthday as we do every year. We alternate full-day symposiums and lectures, and this year the lecture was titled Architectural Preservation in Upper Canada: A Case Study. Brian Blackstock talked us through the history of his beautiful old mill in Prince Edward County. In the second picture you see Brian with his friend Don McLean who was also part of the presentation. They were both highly engaging and informative. Several members who attended also had the opportunity to visit Brian's mill last fall during a weekend trip to the county, among other lovely spots (including a very popular cidery). Afterwards we gathered in Croft Chapter House and toasted Morris with cake (and someone was coincidentally wearing a scarf with the same pattern, Compton) and lots of great chat.

See you all at our next event in April!

Saturday 21 March 2015

Let's Raise a Slice!

This year we went with "Compton," another densely designed foligage pattern, this time designed by the remarkable John Henry Dearle for Morris & Co. the year of Morris's death in 1896.

Check back soon for more photographs of the day's events!

Celebrating... and Looking Ahead

We're looking forward to seeing members and their guests at today's Birthday Lecture by Brian Blackstock: Architectural Preservation in Upper Canada: a case study. Afterwards we'll toast Morris and get a slice of this year's Morris-inspired birthday cake.

Keep checking back as future events are being finalized including talks on the history of Craft Ontario, Morris and radicalism, a year in the life of Morris, News from Nowhere, a picnic/book club, a fall weekend tour, a cemetary ramble and the Yuletide dinner. Keep coming back to check for details and/or follows us on Twitter and Facebook!

Saturday 28 February 2015

Vote for Kelmscott!

Vote for Kelmscott Manor, William Morris's one-time Cotswolds home, to be named the UK's most inspiring museum or heritage visitor attraction of the last 12 months.

All the details are here, and the link to vote!

Friday 27 February 2015

Here's a tip to Keeping Warm - Start Making Summer Plans!

Well, that's one good tip anyway. And speaking of making summer plans, under our "OF INTEREST" button above, we list exhibitions and other items of Morris-related interest that are happening here and around the world.

Keep checking back or follow/like us on Facebook to get all the news that will help you plan your travels, and if you hear of anything we haven't got listed, please leave a comment or e-mail us!

Monday 23 February 2015

The Newcomb Pottery Exhibit

A large, hardy group of WMSC members met up yesterday morning (a snowy one) at the Gardiner Museum for the excellent Women, Art & Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise exhibition. We split into two groups for the private tour with our knowledgable guides and were enchanted by the story behind the pottery and the striking pieces created.

The Gardiner, one of this blog's favourite boutique hotels, is a must-visit for all Torontonians and visitors. Be sure to visit before this particular exhibition ends May 18!

Also, keep up to date on our future events by clicking the FUTURE EVENTS button above.

Sunday 8 February 2015

A Trip to NYC for The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy

Last summer, WMSC member Lera Kotsyuba visited The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. She sent us this review in a timely manner - it is this blogger's fault that it is being posted so tardily.

The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy

Walking past ancient and medieval artifacts, behind the central rotunda, is the exhibition titled “The Pre-Raphaelite Legacy,” set with the intimacy of a small chapel. The secluded space and soft lighting give the gallery a feeling of quiet contemplation, with sounds from the rest of the museum muted by the gallery walls. Showcasing the true spirit behind the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, a meeting and collaboration between the arts and crafts is evident in the pieces chosen for the exhibition. Sketches by Dante Gabriel Rossetti are amid tapestries by Edward Burne-Jones and John Henry Dearle, and books by the Kelmscott Press stand in the centre.

A room that grants intimacy between the viewer and the objects on display, the smaller setting provides the opportunity to truly examine the works up close, an opportunity not as easily available in other parts of the gallery. Although protected by glass, the brushstrokes of The Love Song by Burne-Jones can be studied and compared to those of Lady Lilith by Rossetti. Offering quiet contemplation, the gallery space houses exemplary pieces from the Arts and Crafts movement. Textiles, from the decorative Angeli Laundantes tapestry to the woven designs of Bird by William Morris, and pottery by William de Morgan portray the romantic and imaginative spirit of the Pre-Raphaelites. With approaches to all manner of crafts, the care and artistry of each piece is evident. The Backgammon Players cabinet is exemplary of the Arts and Crafts movement, designed by Burne-Jones and Philip Webb, the cabinet is a work that showcases painting, craft, wood-working, furniture-building and iron-work all in one item.  Placed at eye level, I had the opportunity to peruse every detail (but the interior). Carved, painted, and inlaid with metalwork, the cabinet showcases the individual strengths of each craft in one piece. Similarly splendid was its placement near other domestic works, such as the glazed earthenware by de Morgan and the Bird textile by Morris. Striking a balance between domestic and art object, realizing the true potential of “joy in labour.”

The beautiful “The Well at the World’s End” was my personal favourite in the exhibition. Although encased in glass, its splendor shined through. The winding foliage of the border, with its roots in medieval manuscript roots, was a true testament to the imagination and virtuosity of Morris; the beautifully rendered natural forms of foliage and fruit were not outdone by the deft hand of the illustration by Burne-Jones. Placed next to Aubrey Vincent Beardsley’s frame for Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, drawing focus to the lasting impression that the movement had on those that followed in later years.

I spent over an hour in this gallery alone, perusing these works of beauty, from the soulful eyes of Jane Morris, as drawn by Rossetti, to the vivacity of brushwork by Burne-Jones, the exhibition allows a personal acquaintance with many works that demonstrate the ideals of the Pre-Raphaelites.

Thank you, Lera! You can see more of Lera's photographs on her Flickr account here.

Saturday 31 January 2015

May 2015 Be Filled with Much Morris!

Happy New Year to all!

WMSC members will have received notice of the February event at the Gardiner Museum, tied to their exhibition: Women, Art & Social Change: The Newcomb Pottery Enterprise. This Smithsonian exhibition is visiting Toronto from February 5 to May 18. It looks like a stunner! Check out our Future Events page as more items get added.

Also, please visit our FaceBook page and like us... if you do!

Watch this space or our Twitter feed or our FaceBook page for exciting news about future events, and more.