Saturday 26 November 2022

WMSC Holiday Party 2022

WMSC Holiday Party 2022

Hosted at the Faculty Club, UofT

The WMSC holiday dinner party will be held on Dec. 20, 2022 at the Faculty Club, at the University of Toronto.  This will be a three course sit-down dinner with full plated table service. A bar will be available to purchase wine at an additional cost, credit or debit card only. 

The Faculty Club requests everyone's menu choices for the 3 courses by Dec. 12. They also need to know if there are any food allergies and restrictions. 

You can use the form above to indicate the menu selections for 1 or 2 members, and 1 or 2 guests. Please include the names of individuals, which will help the Faculty Club ensure that the correct meal gets to the correct person. 

Members + Guests

Sunday 13 November 2022

Designing Preservation: Waterways in the Works and Patterns of William Morris

Designing Preservation: Waterways in the Works and Patterns of William Morris
A lecture by Professor Elysia French

Monday Nov. 21 at 7:00 pm EST
Zoom Lecture

‘Wandle', furnishing fabric, William Morris 


Historians have demonstrated awareness of William Morris’s environmental ideologies yet have widely ignored this aspect of his work. Morris’s writings on the environment have commonly been described as romantic, escapist, and utopian; if this remains how they are interpreted, historians risk losing valuable insights into the innovative and progressive qualities of Morris’s environmentalism. William Morris’s environmental ideologies were innovative for his time and applicable for today. Through an exploration of his designs, in which he employs the Thames River as a tool of ecological commentary, it will become clear how Morris’s concerns for environmental preservation, freedom, and justice were embedded within his art.

Dr. Elysia French is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Visual Arts at Brock University. French is trained as an art historian and studies contemporary environmentally and socially engaged work. Her research is focused on intersections between art and the environment with a particular interest in climate change, the culture of oil, and multispecies relationships.

    She is interested in how cultural producers—those operating within the realms of art and visual culture, community and participatory arts, and activism—are making climate change discourse accessible and relevant to the growing public concern. In recent work, French demonstrated how art is a vital field of inquiry in understanding environmental loss through an exploration of the connections that exist between species and stories. Her current multifaceted and collaborative project, Making (Eco)Logical, brings together diverse perspectives from contemporary artists, activists, curators, scholars and theorists, who explore the ways in which art informs perceptions and communications of environmental and social injustices associated with environmental change.

Saturday 5 November 2022

Enola Holmes and the Arts and Crafts Movement


Enola Holmes (2020)

As trends come and go, William Morris designs dance between on-trend Maximalism to evocative Victorian patterns, used in film and TV to suit whichever narrative. With a keen eye for Morris prints, you too can see them pop up in anything from Stranger Things to Riverdale to Bridgerton, and also in Enola Holmes.

The film is set in the late 1880's, and follows a young Enola Holmes (sister of Sherlock Holmes), on her coming-of-age journey. The ancestral home of the Holmes is Ferndell Hall, a mansion that evokes both boisterous Gothic ornament and old manor home decor, and an Arts & Crafts aesthetic. Dark wood panelling suffuse the home and carved finials on many surfaces with heavy patterns and dark colours are accompanied by floral and wildlife motifs. Bird and Pomegranate is a Morris & Co pattern from 1926, but evokes the heavy ornament of the Victorian period the film is set in, lightened by the birds and fruit of the pattern that draws attention to the study of flora and fauna that Enola and her mother have made as their private language with one another. 

  Bird and Pomegranate, Morris & Co, 1926

Throughout the film Enola dons a series of disguises, she ends the film in a dress that evokes Arts & Crafts paintings, while also looking to the future and the Edwardian silhouette. Rather than the voluminous skirts and bustles of the 1880's, her silk gown is leaning more into the 19-teens. 

Enola Holmes (2020)

The dress can be inferred to draw its inspiration from the Aesthetic Dress of the Pre-Raphaelites, whose medieval-inspired clothing called for the drape of a smooth garment that skims the body, usually with voluminous sleeves and embroidered decoration. 

Kate Elizabeth Bunce, The Keepsake (1901)

John William Waterhouse, Ophelia (1894) 

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Salutation of Beatrice (1859)

Enola's dress shows off decorative embroidery (interestingly the making-of which she scorned earlier in the film) without it overwhelming her in decoration. The dress allows for an ease of movement (which she demonstrates by riding a bicycle, an expression of free movement of the period) and sets her apart from the heavily decorated garments in fashion of the day.

Enola Holmes, 2020

Liberty of London/Paris silk gown, c. 1890's

1913 dress, Netherlands

Musings by: Lera Kotsyuba

Lera Kotsyuba is a board member of the WMSC, and is an art and architecture historian and critic.