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Another Artist

Inspiration for this week's blog comes from Russell, who's been sampling my library. By that I mean he's pulling my books from the shelf and chewing them. Of course I don't approve but he's brought some forgotten gems back to my attention. Like this one,

William Morris, Artist Craftsman Pioneer

by Rosalind Ormiston and Nicholas Michael Wells

I've quoted him before;

He also said "Art is necessary to man's essential happiness."

He designed wallpaper that you still see in the house magazines and in my studio.

That's his Willow pattern. Here's an unobstructed view.

Yes, he designed wallpaper but he did so much more. His Wikipedia page begins:

William Morris (24 March 1834 – 3 October 1896) was a British textile designer, poet, artist,[1] fantasy writer, architectural conservationist, printer, translator and socialist activist associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement. He was a major contributor to the revival of traditional British textile arts and methods of production. His literary contributions helped to establish the modern fantasy genre, while he helped win acceptance of socialism in fin de siècle Great Britain.

Here are some quotes from the book:

"He worked with a rambunctious joy." "A rare combination of intellectual, artistic and practical skills"

"A rare and genuine force for cultural change. At the core of his vision lay a desire for honest and valued workmanship, a search for humanity in decorated objects that people could live with use and enjoy."

He was committed to social change and the use of art as a moral instrument in that change. The Arts and Craft Movement was a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, mass production, shabby workmanship and exploitation of workers. I wonder what Morris would have said about the plastics we've buried ourselves under?

He read Das Kapital and fashioned Marx's beliefs to suit his own views on the power of art. Yes, he was a socialist!

These days the terms socialism and Marxism get tossed around for their shock value with no regard for their actual meaning. I hope this book doesn't get banned.

Here's Russell. Do you think he looks contrite?

June 15, 2023

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