An introduction to William Morris: Wallpaper Man
William Morris: Wallpaper Man is an exhibition of new work by the Storybox Collective created during the current pandemic.
We are a group of artists, designers, illustrators and writers working together toapply a serendipitous approach to collaborative making.
Our work for William Morris: Wallpaper Man is inspired by the cultural and political legacy of Morris. From the printmaker and her 4-year-old daughter foraging for oak galls to make natural dyes, to the project using AI to generate new Morris patterns, the diversity of themes and range of responses reinforce the resonance of William Morris’s life’s work today. Members of the Storybox Collective are connected by our ties to Kingston School of Art. We are students, recent graduates and alumni with honorary membership extended to designer Patrick Thomas, Ben Lee and to Sol Rubio King. We are a global collective, with members based in Bangkok, Berlin, Brighton, Manchester, Nantucket, Rotterdam, Sardinia and London.
Interdisciplinary collaboration is at the heart of what we do, with each member identifying an area of interest, then working together to create work that responds to shared themes. Through discussion and exchange of ideas, the work has been curated into three group storyboxes each linked by a quote from William Morris’s lectures.The Collective’s definition of a story box is something that best communicates the narrative of the combined work. It can take any form: print, digital, moving image or object.
For William Morris: Wallpaper Man the curatorial centrepiece sits in the lower library at the William Morris Society. It is a recycled acrylic model of Kelmscott House, Hammersmith with each floor, a story box hosting fragments of work that represent the work showcased here. The model or cabinet of curiosities features in the short film of the curation created by Brandon Pestano.
You can read more about the background to the exhibition in this article for Writers Rebel published in August 2020.
Clare ConwayFounder, The Storybox Collective
It has been an honour for The William Morris Society to work in collaboration with this fantastic group of artists, illustrators, designers and writers on this innovative project that has shone a light on the continued relevance of Morris’ work and beliefs.
The William Morris Society was founded in 1955 to make the life, work and ideas of William Morris (1834-96) better known. Morris was a revolutionary force in Victorian Britain: his work as an artist, designer, craftsman, writer and socialist dramatically changed the fashions and ideologies of the era. The Society’s purpose is to share the knowledge of the life and works of William Morris amongst our members and the wider public. We do this through our publications, events, education programme, library and exhibitions of work by and relating to Morris Everyone at the Society has been impressed by the calibre of talent and skill that the Storybox Collective have brought to this project. It has been particularly interesting seeing the different aspects of Morris that have ‘spoken’ to each maker. The range of pieces very much reflects Morris’ polymathic character—from printing to textiles, politics to ceramics—it has been so impressive to see the artists take inspiration from Morris. It has been a privilege to be involved in this project and to be a part of introducing Morris to this new generation of creatives and getting to see their engagement with and understanding of Morris’ works and character.
The artworks have been situated well within Morris’ legacy and shown that his work and ideas remain as important today as they were in his lifetime. We are delighted to be sharing these extraordinary pieces with you and in the wise words of Morris; “History has remembered the kings and warrior, because they destroyed; art has remembered the people, because they created.”
Mallory HorrillCurator of Collections & Exhibitions
The William Morris Society