Tuesday, 2 November 2021

The Dragon and the Smith: William Morris, JRR Tolkien and the Legend of Sigurd the Volsung


The Dragon and the Smith:
William Morris, JRR Tolkien and the Legend of Sigurd the Volsung

An illustrated lecture by Dustin Geeraert, U. of Manitoba

Monday, November 15th, 2021 at 7:30 pm EST
Zoom Event 

William Morris, Kelmscott Press. "Sigurd the Volsung".

In the 1860s William Morris and the London-based Icelander Eiríkur Magnússon began translating Icelandic sagas into English. They soon published the first ever translation of Völsunga saga, as The Story of the Volsungs and Niblungs, with Certain Songs from the Elder Edda, in 1870. This archetypal Norse dragon-slayer dragon-slayer legend inspired a range of later poems, prose tales, and articles by William Morris and by his successor in Norse-inspired medievalism, J. R. R. Tolkien. Both medievalists immersed themselves deeply in the Norse legacy of Eddas and Sagas, and in response cultivated a Romantic philosophy of craftsmanship. In their various versions of the Volsung legend two figures stood in stark contrast in the roles of creator and destroyer: the Dragon and the Smith.

Dustin Geeraert teaches literature in the English and Icelandic departments at the University of Manitoba. He is editor of ‘The Modern Reception of the Medieval Saga of the Sworn Brothers’ (Scandinavian-Canadian Studies 26, 2019) and The Shadow Over Portage and Main: Weird Fictions (2016, with Keith Cadieux), and has published articles in Journal of the William Morris Society (2012), The Lovecraft Annual (2014), Comitatus: A Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies (2018), and From Iceland to the Americas: Vinland and Historical Imagination (2020).

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Young Poland: An Arts and Crafts Movement (1890 – 1918)


Young Poland:
An Arts and Crafts Movement 
(1890 – 1918)

October 9 2021 – 30 January 2022
William Morris Gallery, London

Curated by Julia Griffin, Andrzej Szczerski and Roisin Inglesby

For those that can't make it to see the exhibition in person, see the website here for more Polish Arts & Crafts: https://youngpolandartsandcrafts.org.uk/exhibition/


Thursday, 30 September 2021

Lecture: Young Poland: The Polish Arts and Crafts Movement

 Young Poland: The Polish Arts and Crafts Movement
An illustrated lecture by Julia Griffin

Sunday, October 3rd, 2021 at 2:00 pm EST
Zoom Event open to all!
*Please note only WMSC members will receive a link to the AGM

Karol Kłosowski, At Bobbin Lacemaking (Legend), undated. Private Collection. By Descent from the Artist

The Young Poland movement emerged in the 1890s in response to Poland’s non-existence for almost a century. From the end of the 18th-century Poland underwent successive partitions dividing the country between Russia, Austria and Prussia, resulting in the country disappearing from the map of Europe for 123 years. In the words of historian Norman Davies, Poland became “just an idea – a memory from the past or a hope for the future”. With the failure of military uprisings, culture became a means to preserve an endangered national identity.

The movement originated under the more liberal Austrian partition known as Galicia, namely in Kraków and the nearby village of Zakopane at the foot of the Tatra Mountains, and soon spread across the nation. It embraced an unprecedented flourishing of applied arts and the revival of crafts, drawing inspiration from nature, history, peasant traditions and craftsmanship to convey patriotic values. While the diverse visual language of Young Poland was created autonomously, in search of a distinctive cultural style and identity, it simultaneously looked outwards to Britain and the rest of Europe.

The first part of the October 3rd lecture will chart the artistic achievements of Stanislaw Wyspianski (1869–1907), arguably the greatest design reformer in Poland’s history, who was William Morris’s closest counterpart. The two artists came from different generations and never met. However, they had a lot in common in terms of their reformist outlook, remarkable creative versatility as applied arts designers and interior decorators, shared interests, commitment to similar causes, and last but not least their character traits and work ethic. As J.W. Mackail, the author of Morris’s first official biography The Life (1899), perceptively stated, Morris’s two greatest inspirations were history and nature; the same was true for Wyspianski. In fact, Wyspianski’s ‘intention was to play the same role in Poland as Morris did in England.’

The second part of the lecture will illuminate Karol Klosowski (1882–1971), a Polish Arts and Crafts designer with a Morrisean genius for ornament. Klosowski’s charming repeating patterns of animals, birds, insects and plants were his means of practising cultural democracy. He stated: ‘pragmatism only serves the sustenance of a vegetative form of human existence. It is beauty which gives life fullness, dignity and worth.’ Unlike Wyspianski, who lived in the city of Kraków, Klosowski chose to settle down in the village of Zakopane, at Silent Villa, where he led the sort of quiet rural existence that Morris longed for but could never experience at Kelmscott due to pressing duties in London.

Julia Griffin is academic co-editor of 'Young Poland: The Polish Arts and Crafts Movement, 1890–1918' and co-curator, with Andrzej Szczerski and Roisin Inglesby, of the exhibition of the same name at the William Morris Gallery (9 October 2021 to 30 January 2022). Julia is a Courtauld-trained art historian specialising in British art, design and cultural history. Her PhD explores Rossetti, Morris and the cultural place-making of Kelmscott Manor. Previous roles include Principal Curator of Guildhall Art Gallery, City of London, Collections Manager of the Society of Antiquaries and Assistant Curator of Watts Gallery.

Thursday, 23 September 2021

Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement

Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement opens in St Petersburg, Florida.

The Museum of the American Arts and Crafts Movement opened to the public Sept. 7, 2021.

Founded by collector Rudy Ciccarello, more than 800 works collected personally by Ciccarello are showcased, culled in part from the Two Red Roses Foundation.

Wednesday, 18 August 2021

People Tree and V&A Morris-inspired collaboration


The latest collaboration with the Victoria & Albert museum celebrates the beauty of prints and patterns that so inspired designers such as William Morris. 

Based on a pretty wallpaper from 1896 by John Henry Dearle, this pattern is reminiscent of many of Morris & Co.'s early designs with its simple meadow flowers and structure of climbing foliage.

See the recent collection here:

People Tree is a Fair Trade clothing company. In the spirit of Morris' socialist and environmental concerns, this brand champions craftspeople and holds itself to a high ethical standard. From their website:

Our Mission:
To support producer partners' efforts towards economic independence and control over their environment and to challenge the power structures that undermine their rights to a livelihood. 

To protect the environment and use natural resources suitably throughout our trading and to promote environmentally responsible initiatives to create new models to promote sustainability. 

To supply customers with good quality products, with friendly and efficient service and build awareness to empower customers and producers to participate in Fair Trade and environmentally sustainable solutions. 

To provide a supportive environment to all stakeholders and promote dialogue and understanding between them. 

To set an example to business and government of a Fair Trade model of business based on partnership, people-centered values and sustainability.  

Monday, 12 July 2021

"The Whole Scheme of the Book:" William Morris and the Kelmscott Press from McMaster University


Established in 1891, the Kelmscott Press was the last great project of William Morris. Conceived as a deliberate return to the technologies and processes of an earlier era of printing, the Press brought together an astonishingly gifted community of artists and artisans in a self-conscious attempt to produce "the ideal book." Its output — 53 books in total, each in a limited print run — represents a high point of aesthetic and philosophical attainment for the Arts and Crafts movement. The work of the Press went on to have a profound influence on both printing and the decorative arts, and its founding is traditionally considered the starting point for the small and fine press movement. McMaster University Library is fortunate to hold several volumes from the Press — including a sumptuous copy of its masterpiece, the Kelmscott Chaucer. 

Join Myron Groover (McMaster's Archives and Rare Books Librarian) for an exploration of the Kelmscott Press, its historical and aesthetic context, and McMaster's own collection of Kelmscott editions. 

Further Reading: 
- Norman Kelvin, Ed. The Collected Letters of William Morris. (Princeton, 1996.) 
- Elizabeth Carolyn Miller. Slow Print: Literary Radicalism and Late Victorian Print Culture. (Stanford, 2013.) 
- Paul Thompson. The Work of William Morris. (Oxford, 1991.) 
- The William Morris Internet Archive (courtesy of Marxists Internet Archive) - The Kelmscott Press Bibliography at the University of Iowa

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Happy Kelmscott Day!


The Kelmscott Chaucer is the most memorable and beautiful edition of the complete works by the English poet. An outstanding achievement in typography, the Golden typeface was especially designed for this book. With 87 full-page illustrations by Sir Edward Burne-Jones and the borders and decorations and initials drawn by William Morris himself.