William Morris (1)

We went to a brilliant lecture by Edmund de Waal on the influence of William Morris on himself and others.   He traced the influence of Morris’s writings and teachings on generations of craft practice, based on the example of a rock solid medievalising table which Morris constructed for himself when he was living in one room in Red Lion Square (hand built and communal).   De Waal went on to describe the ways in which the writings of Morris were absorbed by Bernard Leach and other members of the Japanese craft tradition in Kyoto, including Shoji Hamada;  how Leach organised a two-week International Conference of Potters and Weavers at Dartington Hall in July 1952 and then took his ideas to Black Mountain College;  how the Americans, high on the ideas of the Bauhaus, rejected Leach’s rigorous and high-minded purism;  and how de Waal himself is torn between the high-minded British craft tradition in which he was trained by Geoffrey Whiting in Canterbury, which is one strand of Morris’s legacy, and a more literary form of narrative eclecticism, which can equally be traced via David Jones back to Morris.


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