William Morris’s famous injunction to “have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or beautiful” is exemplified nowhere better than in his exquisite designs for wallpapers and textiles. He created over 50 wallpapers and over 70 printed, woven and embroidered textiles, all of which have had a lasting impact on interior design. This lecture explores the sources of his patterns – inspired partly by his love of nature, and partly by his knowledge of historical designs – and the extraordinary lengths that he went to to revive traditional methods of dyeing and hand production. It also examines how and where his patterns were used, how they came to represent the most artistic of all late Victorian and Arts and Crafts designs, and their influence on the House Beautiful.
Jo Banham is a freelance curator, lecturer and writer. From 2006-2016 she was Head of Adult Learning at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and before that Head of Learning and Access at the National Portrait Gallery, and Head of Public Programmes at Tate Britain. She has also been Curator of Leighton House and Assistant Keeper at the Whitworth Art Gallery. She has published on many aspects of Victorian and early 20th century decoration and interiors. She is currently curating an exhibition on William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement for the Juan March Fundacion in Madrid and the Museu Nacional d’Art Catalunya in Barcelona. She is also Director of the Victorian Society Summer School.