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Exhibition; In the company of Morris @ Art Gallery of Ballarat
20/05/2023 - 06/08/2023$8 – $20
In the company of Morris showcases an exhibition of historical and contemporary Australian artworks demonstrating the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites and in particular William Morris.
William Morris, the Pre Raphaelite polymath, visionary thinker, designer, writer, artist, poet, environmental crusader and social activist, was one of the most important and inspiring figures of the 19th century. He believed in the rights of every individual to improve the world and that good design should be available for all as summed up in his statement ‘I do not want art for a few any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few’. In reaction to the Industrial Revolution Morris argued for a return to nature rejecting mass production and commercialism and championing all things handmade. He imagined a future where the world would have ‘a new art, a glorious art, made by the people and for the people’. Morris championed the beauty of handcraft methods based on medieval craft societies and as an active socialist he promoted the artist or maker being involved in all aspects of an artwork’s manufacture.
The influence of his radical, anti-industrial ideas in both design and politics continues to be visible in the British cultural landscape today. Morris has also left a lasting legacy in Australia- his writings were used in early art school teachings, his workshop produced tapestries for families across the country and his philosophies influenced countless artists. His wallpaper designs and rugs can still be found in homes today.
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood discussed migrating to Victoria as a group, though in the end only Thomas Woolner and Bernhard Smith made their way continuing their artistic careers and furthering public knowledge of the movement in Australia. Relatives of various members emigrated to Australia and did much to promote the Brotherhood.
At the Art Gallery of Ballarat the influence of William Morris and his statement ‘What business do we have with art at all unless we can share it’ is reflected in the Gallery’s founding principle ‘not for self but for all’ and in works by historical and contemporary artists in the Gallery’s Collection.
Artists included in the In the company of Morris exhibition include Norman Lindsay, Deborah Klein, Elizabeth Pulie, William Strutt, Fiona Hiscock, Christian Waller, Napier Waller, Kate Rohde, Thomas Woolner, Bernhard Smith, Alice Muskett, Louiseann King, Stephen Bird, Janet Beckhouse and Emily Floyd.