Monday, May 26, 2008

Wallpaper, self-portraits and William Morris

William Morris wallpaper designs have been an inspiration to me from the time I discovered them almost two years ago yet it didn't really start to appear very strongly in my work until this past year.
I really enjoy the curving lines of the vines and the vintage feel.
Also, even though this isn't something that's in my work, I like the childhood game of finding shapes in the paper (like you would in the clouds). I did a self-portrait in my 2D class last semester that was based on William Morris wallpaper designs but the vines and flowers became a repeating face motif if you looked at it long enough. Of course I could see my face in it right away, but for some it was a discovery after staring at the painting for a long time (and I really liked that about it as well!). That discovery that happened after spending more time with the piece. Who knows, maybe one day those ideas will find their way onto my pots. For now, I'm very content with the layering of patterns that's currently happening.

The wallpaper design on the right is entitled "Artichoke" and it was designed by John Henry Dearle for William Morris & Co. in 1897. I love the design of the artichoke, very stylized and (of course) vine-like. William Morris was one of the main contributers to the start of the Arts and Crafts movement in Brittan, a movement whose ideas myself and many others still look to for inspiration.

At the Essential Architecture website I was just looking at, it describes the Arts and Crafts movement in this way: "Originating from the teachings of William Morris, John Rushkin, and other late-19th century English Theorists, the Arts & Crafts movement's emphasis was on "humanizing" design through simple, crafted forms and honest expression of materials."

I love that second part, "simple, crafted forms and honest expression of materials." That's what I want to see in my work. But at the same time, I don't want to forms to look stereotypical or too "crafty". Right now, I feel like I'm just starting to touch on where my work could be headed and what direction my career as a ceramic artist is (stylistically) going.

To read a few thoughts by William Morris about his ideas of what is (should be) art and what is craft, read his book _Hopes and Fears for Art_ .
Here's a link to a free online copy at Enjoy!