Posts Tagged ‘tapestry’

A few weeks ago I went on a trip to the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow. In the middle of Lloyd Park sits a beautiful a grand Georgian house, and is entirely dedicated to the celebration of the Arts and Crafts designer. The house, the work and the atmosphere all make it well worth a trip; here are some of my highlights.

Illustrated Book by William Morris

The gallery is filled with William’s best and brightest work, from the beginning and end of his life, and continuing after his death as his company Morris & Co. lived on, and still continues today. The tapestry below was a rather unique piece in the collection, and although it was made in 1885, it has a very medieval quality to it, and is an ode to Morris’s love of storytelling.

Tapestry by William Morris

Cray Block Printed Cotton by William Morris

This intricate, floral design was created using natural vegetable dyes and needed thirty-four different woodblocks to complete the finished look; showing the dedication that Morris and his team put into their work.

There are all sorts of different pieces on display at the gallery, including this fireplace surround, which is beautifully decorated with Longden tiles in a sunny yellow, which have been attributed to Philip Webb who worked closely alongside William throughout his career.

Longden Tiles by Philip Webb

If you know William Morris, you’re probably aware of his ideologies that contributed to his style of work, and his return to art forms prior to the Victorian era. Morris created his work in protest to the industrial revolution, and the way it treated the workers as well as the quality of the work that was produced. Here, Morris designed this chair for his lodgings in London, and its style reflects a medieval style with painted panels; which was an era that Morris much admired.

Medieval Style Chair by William Morris

The gallery also featured a segment from William Morris’s first wallpaper design, Trellis, which also reflected his love for medieval art once again, and was based on a medieval style walled garden he had created at his home, Red house.

Trellis Wallpaper Design by William Morris

This Flowerpot embroidery, was an affordable design which proved very popular, and was made by May Morris, Morris’s very talented daughter; the design looks like it was perfectly made for a feature cushion.

Flowerpot Embroidery by William Morris

Another wallpaper design that really caught my eye was the Lily and Pomegranate design. It’s meticulous detail shows the craftsmanship that went into each and every piece; the background is made up of dots, which is intricate work and Morris is quoted as saying on the design “after taking all the trouble to draw it, do you think I’d be such a fool as not to do the dots?”

Lily and Pomegranate Wallpaper design by William Morris

May Morris, William’s daughter also had her own career as a designer and an embroiderer; and had an exhibition at the gallery as well. Her work was absolutely glorious, full of light and elegance.

Work by May Morris

This piece is absolutely luminous; there’s a delicacy it is and softness that is different to her father’s work.

Work by May Morris

This design was by far my favourite thing in the whole gallery. Intricate embroidery on a sheer silk background, shows off not only style but skill. The golden thread still shimmers today, holding all of its life even after all this time; it’s a truly breath-taking piece.

Detailing of Work by May Morris

Written on the wall in May Morris’ exhibition is a quote by her in her later life saying “I’m a remarkable woman – always was, though none of you seemed to think so”, which I thought was rather brilliant. Under the shadow of her father and his company, May Morris shined, although not in her own name, but today she get the celebration she deserves, and she truly does deserve it.


For more information on the William Morris Gallery visit their website www.wmgallery.org.uk/

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NC129-130 Pentreath and Hall Group

FCW cushions designed by Pentreath and Hall

Fine Cell Work is a charity that I can’t say enough good things about. Its aim is to train prisoners in skilled, paid needlework which may be for a commission or to be sold in finished form. The work is of amazingly high quality as prisoners are taught and supported by volunteers many of who were trained at the Royal School of Needlework and/or belong to the Embroiderers and Quilters Guilds. One of the core aims of the charity is to foster discipline and self-esteem in prisoners and to give them important work and self-management skills that can be used in life after prison. Recently I had a chat with FCW managing director Victoria Gillies:

CB: I spent a fantastic day at Waddesdon Manor recently at an event that you co-ordinated with the textile department of the house – can you tell us more about your connection with Waddesdon?

VG: Waddesdon Manor is the country seat of the Rothschild family and the Rothschild Foundation has sponsored FCW in the past. In 2011 the charity had a fundraising event in memory of the founder of Fine Cell Work, Lady Anne Tree, to set up a fund to work with prisoners after they left prison. A member of the Rothschild’s family knew Lady Anne Tree. Recently, the Foundation hosted a reception and sale at the Dairy, with an event at Waddesdon about textiles in their collection the next day. Fine Cell Work products, made in prisons throughout the country were sold in the shop. In fact FCW were able to take a textile design from Waddesdon which has a rich textile archive and use the image for a needlepoint kit.


CB: I understand that you have had some prestigious commissions? Gavin Turk, The V&A Museum, The Prince of Wales etc. Do you have any interesting commissions coming up that you can talk about?

VG: There is a remarkable commission that has just been unveiled at the British Library which is by the eminent British artist Cornelia Parker. It’s a contemporary interpretation of the Magna Carta in the form of a hand stitched representation of the Magna Carta’s Wikipedia Page and is over 14 metres long. The text of the piece is stitched predominantly by Fine Cell Work stitchers with the illustrations being done by the Embroiderers’ Guild, the golden crown by the Royal School of Needlework and the Wikipedia logo by Hand and Lock. The whole piece has been stitched by over 240 people including professional stitchers, prisoners, civil rights campaigners, lawyers and volunteers from FCW. In fact I stitched the words New Zealand as this is where I am originally from. Cornelia used a wonderful expression about it when she said that she wanted it to be ‘the work of many hands’.

Cornelia Parker with a small section of the work

CB: What are FCW’s aims for the future?

VG: FCW has been around for 18 years in which time amazing things have been achieved. In the next 18 months to two years we are looking at creating an employment hub in Greater London to help prisoners coming out of prison to use and extend the work skills they have. We are currently running a pilot scheme with seven prisoners as they leave prison to help them into accredited training, getting qualifications and gaining employment. We currently have one ex prisoner who is working in a very high end soft furnishing company and another who is taking a full time upholstery qualification. We want to build on this going forward and will be able to increase the number of ex-prisoners who are helped into work by the hub. We are also looking at ways of working with interior designers to provide soft furnishing services on a regular basis and we are expanding our workshop in HMP Gartree which will help support this.

Fine Cell Work Pink & Orange pineapple

FCW Pink and Orange Pineapple designed by Melissa Wyndham

CB: The designs for both the completed work that you sell and the kits are beautiful – who is behind these?

VG: We work closely with talented designers who volunteer their time for us. Melissa Wyndham has worked with us extensively in the past and her pineapple cushion which she designed recently has been a best seller. We also work closely with Kit Kemp who has a new range with us coming up and will be launched in November at Ham Yard Hotel in London. Both Melissa and Kit are on our board of trustees.

CB: What is the process of commissioning a piece of work?

VG: Anything is possible! We have a commission’s expert who will work with someone who wants to commission a piece. If there is already an idea of what is required, we can work on how it is achievable or can provide ideas from scratch. We have almost completed an absolutely stunning embroidered wall-hanging almost covering the width of one wall for the Worshipful Company of Glaziers to hang in the Glaziers Hall near London Bridge. This was designed by a stained glass designer and stitched in small pieces to create a large wall hanging that has the effect of water on glass. This is going to be unveiled in July this year.

CB: Thank you so much for your time Victoria and please extend all our best wishes to everyone involved with FCW.

See more about Fine Cell Work, buy the work (or needlework kits if you are feeling industrious) or commission some work at www.finecellwork.co.uk


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The sun is shining, holiday season is upon us and summer day trips are beckoning. Whether you’re looking for places to take the kids this summer or if you fancy taking a trip before the crush of the school holidays, the UK is packed with gorgeous stately homes, crammed with incredible interiors, paintings, art and history and open for visitors to have a snoop around.

long gallery hatfield house

The Angel + Blume team took a break from the office recently to take a trip to Hatfield House and we returned with our batteries recharged and our imaginations fired up by the incredible interiors and craftsmanship. Dating back to 1485 this house was taken over later by Henry VIII as a residence for his children Mary, Elizabeth and Edward; it’s definitely a house fit for royalty – just look at that gold ceiling.

king james hatfield house

If you’re a fan of minimalist interiors look away now. Every room in Hatfield House is bursting with furniture, paintings, sculpture and ornaments. Look at the walls of this room – not only are the ornate paintings jostling for space on every surface, but they are hanging on top of huge antique tapestries. And as for that fireplace…it’s so vast there’s even enough space for a full size statue on the mantlepiece.

library hatfield house

Fancy a bit of light reading? How impressive is this double-height library. If there’s one thing that these rooms demonstrate it’s a total confidence and boldness when it comes to interior decorating. It’s a great example of  knowing what your style is and then really going for it – there’s certainly no modesty or hesitation here.

hatfield house 2011

Interestingly, the rooms that got the best reaction from the Angel + Blume team were the servants quarters. The large, airy kitchen was a lovely sunny space, with rows and rows of gleaming copper saucepans neatly lined up on shelves (our resident cake-baker Jenny was green with envy). Predictably these rooms were totally devoid of decoration and glitz but they had an entirely different charm as you could imagine life bustling along there at a frantic pace as food was prepared in great quantities for the banquets and feasts held in the rooms above.

hatfield house ghrdens

And if you’re interested in garden design there’s no excuse not to visit, as the gardens are world famous. According the The Enduring Gardener the best time to visit the garden is June when they are ‘overflowing with roses’.

hatfield house gardens

So if you have a spare afternoon this summer I heartily recommend hopping in the car and taking the opportunity to snoop around a seriously impressive house. You’ll return with heaps of ideas and inspiration for your own home.

Images 1 2 3 Hatfield House 4 FredsDaysOut 5,6 The Enduring Gardener

Hatfield House

Hatfield, Hertfordshire AL9 5NQ

Tel: 01707 287010

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