Islamic art show explores William Morris’s inspiration

A new online exhibition examines the influence of Islamic art on one of Hammersmith’s most famous sons, William Morris.

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Iznik border tile design from the online William Morris Society exhibition

A new online exhibition examines the influence of Islamic art on the British Arts & Crafts movement, and one of Hammersmith’s most famous sons, William Morris.

Entitled ‘A Place in Pattern: Islamic Art and its Influence in British Arts & Crafts’, the show runs until 4 January at The William Morris Society in Upper Mall, Hammersmith. It is curated by researcher and artist Sara Choudhrey.

Using papers and objects from the William Morris Society’s archive and the Emery Walker Trust collection, Dr Choudhrey explores themes of nature, locality and cultural interaction.

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Sample of Persian wallpaper designed by John Henry Dearle

Light and shadow

In 1882, Morris wrote: “To us pattern designers, Persia has become a holy land, for there in the process of time our art was perfected, and thence above all places it spread to cover for a while the world, east and west.”

The Walker family were friends and neighbours of the Morrises, and greatly admired Islamic art. They collected pieces on their travels in North Africa, the Middle East and Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The show plays with the effects of light and shadow, textures and form, mixing digital technologies and traditional techniques to bring together three different styles of Islamic art.

There is also an accompanying events programme, which includes online talks and virtual workshops.

The William Morris Society is based in the coach house and basement of Kelmscott House, Morris’s Hammersmith home for the last 18 years of his life.

Get full details of the exhibition here.

It follows the William Morris Society’s first foray into virtual exhibitions, ‘Highlights from the William Morris Society’s Collection’, which helped introduce a broader worldwide online public to the talents of the textile and wallpaper designer, artist, writer and political activist.

Morris lived by the river in Hammersmith from April 1879 until his death in 1896.

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Iznik tile design watercolour on tracing paper, mounted onto card

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