Sunday, 3 May 2015

More Morris correspondence

As promised here is the next excerpt from a William Morris letter. It is November 1855 and Morris has been at Exeter College, Oxford where he has been undertaking theology studies…….(photos of Exeter College taken last year on one of our Morris tours)……….

It is also the year that Morris starts to receive a 900 pound a year inheritance. This letter is to his mother Emma…….
"My dear Mother,
I am almost afraid you thought me scarcely in ernest when I told you a month or two ago that I did not intend taking Holy Orders; if this is the case I am afraid also that my letter now may vex you; but if you have really made up your mind that I was in earnest I should hope you will be pleased with my resolution. You said then, you remember, and said very truly, that it was an evil thing to be an idle, objectless man; I am fully determined not to incur this reproach………I wish now to be an architect, an occupation I have often had hankering after, even during the time when I intended taking Holy Orders………If I were not to follow this occupation I in truth know not what I should follow with any chance of success, or hope of happiness in my work, in this I am pretty confident I shall succeed, and make I hope a decent architect sooner or later; and you know too that in any work that one delights in, even the merest drudgery connected with it is delightful too - I shall be a master too of a useful trade, one by which I should hope to earn money, not altogether precariously, if other things fail." We now know that Morris did not fulfil this wish but instead gave us such delight in his textile designs as seen here inside the Exeter College chapel………

 In this same letter Morris goes on to describe his letter as being a "long and silly letter about a simple matter"…….and it also includes this paragraph that has become one of his most frequently shared quotes (and i just love it!)…..
"You see I do not hope to be great at all in anything, but perhaps I may reasonably hope to be happy in my work, and sometimes when I am idle and doing nothing, pleasant visions go past me of the things that may be."
This afternoon I headed down to the river for a walk where I enjoyed the chirping blue wrens on the ground and the majestic pelicans gliding overhead… is such a great time to reflect and plan the weeks ahead…………

I've already started on designs for the Beatrix Potter book and this first one is my interpretation of a sketch that Beatrix did when she was only 15. Last night I was emailing Helen from Whitecroft Tours as it was her book that led me to this sketch. Apparently the Potter family spent holidays at Dalguise House in Scotland so I wonder if this was a plaster ornament in the house that inspired her sketch. On the left is the book and the right is Beatrix's sketch with mine below (I think a repeat pattern might make a nice bell-pull!)………..

 Of course some projects will feature some of her other talent……….and yes this is how my appliqué starts with very rough sketches!
 Helen and I share a unique bond and we also share many coincidences in life including both losing a brother to cancer far too young. When I first met Helen several years ago she planted the seed by telling me I just had to do a "Beatrix Potter" appliqué book! So five years later I am taking the plunge! And why would Helen tell me to do that….well Helen used to be the chairperson of the Beatrix Potter Society and here she is with the delightful Patricia Routledge who left some of us with a  lasting impression as Mrs Bucket / Bouquet in the series "Keeping up Appearances". Here is Helen and Patricia together at the launch of the Beatrix Potter Rose and you can read more about that here………
So it seems fitting to finish with a little more from Helen. Some of you may recall that Helen flew the Aussie flag when I was staying with her in Devon last year…..well here is the flag today in misty Devon celebrating the arrival of the new princess……….love you Helen! x

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Morris at home

Now I know I promised to share more of William Morris and his letters but first a little of this! Yesterday I met six eager Morris fans who had flown from Quairading in Western Australia. This town is situated in the wheat belt of WA and is two hours east of Perth. After the girls made the road trip to Perth there was another two and a half hour flight to Adelaide. Sam emailed me a year ago to plan it all and how that year has flown (and little did she know that she would be very pregnant on this visit with her fourth child!) We met at the Art Gallery of South Australia and were met by the Decorative Arts Curator Robert Reason. And what a treat we had…….Robert kindly retrieved some items from storage including two of my most favourite embroidered pieces. The embroideries never cease to enthral me with stitches in silk that glow with their exquisite shading……….

After a couple of wonderful hours at the gallery it was a quick walk down North Tce, past the War Memorial and then a short tram ride to lunch……..
Lunch destination was an old railway station now known as The Loose Caboose and the food did not disappoint……..
I had the most delicious mushrooms…...

And when the bill came it was tucked inside a vintage golden book The Little Red Caboose!
After lunch it was another walk down the road where we had some fun time together at Hettie's Patch where I was spoilt with a gorgeous gift from the girls….
Thanks Sam for organising the trip and thanks girls for making the journey to Adelaide and for allowing me to share a little of our William Morris story with you…….
We've had some great family time over the last week as well from decorating donuts, receiving balloons twisted into a motor bike and a walk down by the river……wonderful memories together…….the first two colourful images are Emily's collages (thanks Em!)……

Now to that long awaited May Morris book (!!)…..we have decided that release date will be after a little book launch which will actually be a fundraiser for Australia's Biggest Morning Tea. A local group made the kind offer so that will be a fun day on May 26th. The books will retail for $22.95(AUS) and postage in Australia is only $3.50. To New Zealand it is $9.75 but postage to the UK, USA and Canada is an outrageous $16.50! So I will explore the possibility of getting the books printed in the US and let you know. Meanwhile stay tuned for a new website where purchasing will be simple with a credit card via PayPal. Thanks again for your visit and next time I will explore the next lot of letters from William Morris!