This week, Veronica Hunsinger-Loe introduces you to designer William Morris and tells about the influence of his work on our upcoming production, The Importance of Being Earnest.
While designing our set for The Importance of Being Earnest, I have been thinking a lot about luscious patterns and indulgence, about making everything oppulent and delicious. So, in my research, I found William Morris, an English textile designer in the late 19th century (the same period in which Oscar Wilde worked) who explored the beauty of pastoral abundance. Morris was a part of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which is regarded as the first avant-garde movement in visual art. The Pre-Raphaelites rejected the “mechanistic” approach to the art of the Classical period and focused instead on the careful study of Nature. Their doctrine was divided into four essential principles:
- To have genuine ideas to express
- To study Nature attentively, so as to know how to express them
- To sympathise with what is direct and serious and heartfelt in previous art, to the exclusion of what is conventional and self-parodying and learned by rote
- Most indispensable of all, to produce thoroughly good pictures and statues
Morris adopted this doctrine not only as a textile designer, but as an author, poet, illustrator and painter. When speaking about textiles he said, “The aim should be to combine clearness of form and firmness of structure with the mystery which comes of abundance and richness of detail”: a motto I think we Horses will be adopting for the show.
Here are some examples of Morris’s beautiful and intricate work: