Dovecot to host the works of William Morris

The archive of Morris & Co, one of the world’s best known interior brands, is coming to Scotland early next year.

Dovecot, the world-renowned tapestry studio in Edinburgh, presents a new interpretation of William Morris’ wallpaper designs to celebrate UK wallpaper innovation. Opening on January 28 2022 this major exhibition highlights why Morris is regarded as one of the most successful pattern designers of all time and why his designs continue to set trends worldwide.

William Morris (1834-1896) is one of the world’s most successful pattern designers. A British craftsman and pioneer of modern design, Morris started designing wallpapers in the 1860s. Within a decade, he was creating some of his most enduring designs including ‘Larkspur’, ‘Jasmine’ (both 1872), ‘Willow’ (1874) and ‘Marigold’ (1875).

The exhibition features over 130 works from the Sanderson and Morris & Co archives spanning from the 1830s to the 1920s. It traces the history from the founding of ‘Morris & Co’ Key works include rare formal Victorian designs that predate Morris, Victorian woodblocks and ‘kin-karakami’, Japanese wallpaper produced for export, which Morris was influenced by.

Acanthus by William Morris

Including framed original samples, as well as interior layouts, the exhibition will place the visitor into the 19th and 20th century interiors these wallpapers were made for. It is the first time many of these historic samples have been exhibited in the UK.

The largest section of the exhibition will focus on William Morris, and his legacy. William Morris was a writer, poet, translator, publisher, fervent socialist, environmentalist and protector of ancient buildings.

This exhibition, curated by Mary Schoeser, and produced by Dovecot Studios with the Sanderson Design Group Archive charts a collection of wallpapers by acclaimed 19th and 20th Century designers. These include Morris, Owen Jones, Dresser, Pugin, and Voysey. Featuring reconstructions of interiors, the wallpapers convey the charms of the designs by Morris, who advocated ‘a beautiful life’.

Lion and Dove by William Morris

Exhibition Curator Mary Schoeser said: ‘Looking at William Morris within his milieu reveals influences across time and within a global context. From wallpapers inspired by 15th century Italian silks to Japanese “leather” papers, this exhibition brings together the diverse elements that, melded together, made Morris and the Arts and Crafts style an international phenomenon by the end of the nineteenth century.’

Celia Joicey, director of Dovecot, said: ‘I am delighted Dovecot is starting 2022 with an exhibition on the most influential British designer of the last 100 years. William Morris’ famous wallpaper patterns embody the ethics and aesthetics of great design. Artistic and complex yet instantly recognisable, Morris’s mastery of his medium continues to be an inspiration for not only the work of Dovecot Studios’ but also many other contemporary artists and makers.’

Rebecca Craig, lead designer of Morris & Co, added: ‘Morris & Co has certainly produced some of the most inspiring and innovative designs since the 19th century and I’m thrilled these are receiving academic attention at Dovecot. At Morris & Co. today, we use original archival documents to faithfully reproduce William Morris’s cherished designs, upholding his legacy of impeccable craftsmanship so the brand can be enjoyed by future generations.’

Find out more about Dovecot Studios HERE.