Blog 81 - William Morris



I had selected this scarf earlier in the week to wear today in celebration. Little did I know the excitement I would have in my search for its origins. Before I tell you of the detective work, you must first know what I am celebrating. In the broadest sense, it is things beautiful, then in particular, visual art, and finally narrowing to the celebration of my granddaughter’s graduation with a First Class Honours degree in Art at Manchester University.

Having chosen the scarf which is beautiful, is evidently the work of a talented designer and is well suited to the graduate’s appreciation of nature, now I must find out about its origin. I cannot remember where I purchased it, possibly at the V&A museum, but there is no label to guide me. It is long, silk, with hand rolled edges, good quality, muted shades of azure, green and burnt orange. It looks like a William Morris design. Quite recently, just before Covid times, I paid a visit to the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow. This was a trip down Memory Lane, remembering teen years spent in nearby Woodford Green and two years of evening classes at the West Essex Technical College in Walthamstow after a long day at a leprosy relief charity office in Victoria. Alas, not studying art….but boring shorthand-typing! Next the college was the Town Hall, more exciting times with Saturday night jiving, and of course Walthamstow street market in search of bargain priced fabric for home dressmaking…..all about seventy years ago. Naturally, I was excited to visit the William Morris Gallery in recent years and discover this small gem with the unexpected beautiful gardens behind. It is housed in the former home of William Morris, once known as the Water House which had been grandly guarded at one time by a moat.

I approached the Gallery about my scarf and am grateful for curator Roisin’s prompt detective work on my behalf. The design is named PERSIAN, not the work of William Morris but John Henry Dearle, who joined Morris as a teenager in 1878, studied at the South Kensington Museum and succeeded him as Art Director. His PERSIAN design was later produced as a wallpaper by Arthur Sanderson around 1955 and it is recorded at the V&A. Dearle also designed a brocatelle fabric with the same name and this is recorded at the Walthamstow museum. The year of that Sanderson wallpaper release was when I got married. It was fashionable to decorate one wall with a bold paper. I wish I could say we used that particular paper.

So, I am proudly wearing my scarf today, disappointed I could not make the Graduation ceremony on Tuesday, relieved that my granddaughter’s Covid PCR test came back negative. The Covid risk meant that I made the request to try being on my own without a daughter carer for the first time in six weeks since my freak accident, somewhat marooned on my ground floor. I have made sure that under my makeshift bed I have a box of my precious scarves…..and of course my memories. Despite a good recovery, I don’t think I am ready yet for jitterbugging in memory of these Saturday night hops at the Walthamstow Town Hall, but I could try hand-jive from my chair! I may have great grandsons aged two and one visiting today. A family exercise activity?

Well done to Ella, my blog art editor, on her graduation and a fine degree.



Busy Bee, Scarf Face!

Series 2, Blog 81.

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