The Woodpecker Tapestry was created in 1885 and is the only such work designed… (William Morris Gallery )
Northeast London's William Morris Gallery has reopened after an $8-million overhaul that has reinvigorated the childhood home of Britain's Arts and Crafts pioneer.
This elegant parkland villa in Walthamstow -- a free-entry attraction -- showcases Morris' oeuvre, from curlicue tapestries to heroic-themed stained glass, using touchscreens, interactive activities and period artifacts to illuminate a Victorian who believed beauty was essential to human existence.
The first of nine rooms introduces Morris, stoking your interest for the next room’s early experiments in painting, embroidery and furniture-making. These triggered the creation of the interior design firm Morris & Co., which aimed to combine art and functionality in everyday homes. Look out for its first wallpaper, a richly flowered 1862 creation.
But changing the look of the world wasn’t enough for Morris. Upstairs, the gallery explores his anti-capitalist writings -- he thought industrialization was deeply dehumanizing -- including "News from Nowhere," a bestselling utopian novel satirizing society.
Printing rather than writing dominated Morris' final years. His Kelmscott Press' achingly beautiful tomes line the next room, including a Chaucer anthology teeming with mesmerizing illustrations. Morris thought that even reading should be an engagement with beauty.
Info: In Lloyd Park in Walthamstow, a 10-minute walk from Walthamstow Central underground and mainland train station, The gallery is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday. Admission is free.
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