Arts and Crafts patterns

William Morris - The Arts and Crafts Movement
April 27, 2016 – 04:04 am
Aster and pendant rose designs

WILLIAM MORRIS (1834-1896)
'Tulip and Willow' 1873 (pencil and watercolour sketch for print design)

William Morris was a leading member of the Arts and Crafts Movement. He is best known for his pattern designs, particularly on fabrics and wallpapers. His vision in linking art to industry by applying the values of fine art to the production of commercial design was a key stage in the evolution of design as we know it today.

William Morris was an artist, designer, printer, typographer, bookbinder, craftsman, poet, writer and champion of socialist ideals. He believed that a designer should have a working knowledge of any media that he used and as a result he spent a lot of time teaching himself a wide variety of techniques. Like many designers of his time, Morris was skilled in a wide range of arts and crafts. For example, although he is famous for his wallpaper designs, he also founded the Kelmscott Press which published high quality hand bound books and was very influential in the revival of the private press.

'The Diligent Study of Nature'

WILLIAM MORRIS (1834-1896)
'Windrush' 1881-83 (pencil and watercolour sketch for textile design)

The creative approach that William Morris employed in his designs was revealed in a lecture from 1874: 'first, diligent study of Nature and secondly, study of the work of the ages of Art'.

Morris felt that the 'diligent study of Nature' was important, as nature was the perfect example of God's design. He saw this as the spiritual antidote to the decline in social, moral and artistic standards during the Industrial Revolution.

Likewise the 'study of the work of the ages of Art', a reference to the appreciation of art history, was equally important as Morris encouraged artists to look to the past for their inspiration believing that the art of his own age was inferior. Morris' solution was for a return to the values of the Gothic art of the middle Ages, where artists and craftsmen had worked together with a common purpose: to glorify God through the practice of their skills. The model for this solution was the medieval crafts guilds which he saw as a type of socialist brotherhood where everybody fulfilled themselves according to their level of ability. Morris felt that this would enhance the quality of life for all, and that artistic activity itself would be seen as a force for good in society.

The Medieval Crafts Guilds

WILLIAM MORRIS (1834-1896)

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