William Morris Gallery

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Things to do


Date of travel

July, 2017

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The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, recently launched a competition for the London Borough of Culture and Waltham Forest was the first to launch its campaign and with good reason.

Waltham Forest, the borough in which I live, is the home of the “William Morris Gallery”:http://www.wmgallery.org.uk/home: the only public gallery devoted to the life and legacy of the designer, craftsman and socialist. If you have no idea who he was, its more than likely that at some time, you’ve had curtains of cushions adorned with his iconic designs. Check them out on “Google.”:https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=william+morris+designs&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwjTkueOmKLVAhUIBBoKHYbtBDsQsAQIYw&biw=1536&bih=744.

The Gallery is located over two floors, in his former home, is a 10 to 15 minute walk from Walthamstow Central station. Whilst I’ve visited before to learn more about him and see the collections of textiles, furniture, ceramics, paintings, designs, this time, I was visiting to see a special exhibition: Be Magnificent the story of Walthamstow School of Art (WSA) between 1957-1967. So, what did I learn?

Well firstly, the WSA was the local name for what was the South West Essex Technical College and some of the noted students and tutors were Pop Artists Peter Blake and Derek Boshier, musician Ian Dury, filmmakers Ken Russell and Peter Greenaway and fashion designers Celia Birtwell, Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin. Because the school attracted young tutors, the students could easily identify with them and their work: consequently it was said to be cutting edge and ahead of its time supplying more students to the Royal College of Art than any other. There was a lovely 10 minute video of some of the former students including a lovely piece between Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin where Sally remembers Marion as being a little middle class because she brought her old bras in for the other poorer students!

The Gallery has a lovely airy “tea room”:http://www.wmgallery.org.uk/visit/tea-room (with William Morris etched glass roof) where a coffee set me back £2.95 (I resisted the scrummy looking selection of cakes). There is an outdoor terrace and tables overlooking the lovely Lloyd Park which is also worth looking round if the weather is good. There is also a well-stocked gift shop with lots of things you don’t need in William Morris print – although I did pick up a jar of Walthamstow Honey as a birthday gift!

Helen Jackson

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