Tuesday, 23 April 2013

200words: william morris museum

“When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” Matthew 19v22

The William Morris Museum would like to be a monument to Marxian means of maximalist manufacturing, displaying joy in Sennett's sacred acts of making glorious many crafts in colour, form and varied texture. Truly, it is a lovingly laboured piece of museum design, richly furnished with surprisingly extensive artefacts from Morris' endlessly fertile visual imagination. Artefacts whose longevity and versatility and delight are borne out in application onto every available surface: etched, projected and woven, it is a wonderful thing to be enswathed in so profoundly playful a visual adventure. Indulgent even? A twinge of unease occurs in the café, too much of the English condition is displayed too transparently. I find myself waking inside a luxurious memorial to the patron saint of champagne socialism, a tribute to that pioneer of middle-class marketing. Mid-mouthful, my hand-made, home-baked, free-range dessert allegorises over-sweetly. From one rich young man to a younger, from beyond the grave, Morris seems to mourn his life-long search for authenticity: it is all but the decoration of melancholia, the melancholia of decoration.

In his Earthly Paradise, 'wanderers' and 'elders' meet monthly to share poetic accounts of their frustrated searches for paradise. Such communion was his vision for a brotherhood, such might two-hundred-words be. Only let us be more hopeful.


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