Strawberry Thief , 1883 | Wreath; Poppy, 1880 and Wreath, 1876 | Willow Bough, 1887 | Page from V&A Pattern: William Morris
William Morris (1834-96) was a leading and influential member of the Arts and Crafts movement, talented in many crafts, but best known as a wallpaper and textile designer. He loved all natural forms - flowers, birds, fruit, trees and leaves - which inspired him to create a range of both simple and beautifully complex wallpaper and textile patterns. He once said, 'have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful', and that's just what he wanted to offer people with his designs - to bring beauty into one's home.
By looking at his first wallpaper design, Trellis, which was inspired by rose trellises in medieval gardens, you can see just how his style developed in later years. From what first started as quite geometric designs, he soon began creating more organic, stylized patterns, where it becomes hard to register the beginning and ending of repeats. This is particularly noticeable in the Willow and Wreath designs above, as Morris has interwoven the leaves and flowers in a way to make his patterns appear almost three-dimensional, rather than just a flat picture. One of my favourite patterns of his is Strawberry Thief, which I really feel showcases how wonderfully rich yet subtle the colours of his designs were. There's also a lovely little story behind this piece too, as Morris was inspired to design Strawberry Thief after birds frequently stole strawberries from his garden in Kelmscott Manor!
Over the years I have started to collect all things William Morris, ranging from postcards from the V&A Shop, to books on his work, cushion covers, fabric and the most beautiful set of curtains. One day I hope to fill my house with more of his work and to cover my walls with his beautiful wallpaper. But for now, numerous visits to the Victoria and Albert Museum will be just fine, because nothing beats experiencing the beauty of his work first-hand.
You can find out more about William Morris on the V&A website here.
Photographs by Jazmine Rocks