William Morris dream (COPY #7)


William Morris Farinella

A few weeks ago I visited the William Morris Gallery and it was for me a great revelation. I  had seen his work before but I didn’t know much the great man behind it. Despite his privileged life Morris was a social activist, advocating – amongst many other things – for a new form of art which was affordable and hand-made. He wanted to raise the artisan to the status of the artist, against the rise of industrial manufacture. This is why I have decided to draw one of his famous patterns as my monthly copy. To make it more interesting I added also a portrait of him and his lifelong companions: Gabriel Dante Rossetti and Edward Burne-Jones (who inspired with him to the Arts and Crafts Movement) and his wife Jane Morris, discussing the teachings of John Ruskin’s The Stones Of Venice.

William Morris pattern
“Brother Rabbit,” design registered May 20, 1882 (printed 1917–23) (detail) Designed by William Morris (British, 1834–1896); Produced by Morris & Company, Merton Abbey, England Printed cotton; 106 1/2 x 37 1/2 in. (270.5 x 95.3 cm) Purchase, Edward C. Moore Jr. Gift, 1923 (23.163.5)

Morris famously said:

“I do not want art for a few any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few.”

I couldn’t agree more, and I would follow up saying that I do not want science for a few any more than art for a few. Art has become a much more ‘popular’ during the past century (although probably not more affordable), while the appreciation of science has mostly remained a privilege of a few academics. I think it’s time to apply Morris’s revolutionary spirit to the sciences: to make them much more accessible and democratic. And since we’re at it, why not create science-inspired wallpapers, fabrics and patterns? The intricate structure of biology would lend themselves perfectly to beautiful designs and many artists are already working in this direction. We should have public commissions for scientific designs, to incorporate in our public schools and hospitals, libraries and museums.

Is it just a dream?


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