Exhibition Explores the Art & Advocacy of May Morris

Displays on Hammersmith Mall highlight work of often overlooked figure

Designs by May Morris
Designs by May Morris

A new exhibition about craftsperson and advocate May Morris (1862-1938) is taking place at The William Morris Society on the Upper Mall, Hammersmith. The exhibition has free admission and is open to the public.

The younger daughter of Victorian designer, poet and writer William Morris, May wrote to a friend towards the end of her life, “I’m a remarkable woman, always was, though none of you seemed to think so.”

Her accomplishments as a designer-craftsperson and advocate were largely forgotten until the end of the twentieth century, when public interest was renewed. May Morris: Art & Advocacy seeks to further public knowledge about the wide-ranging talents and accomplishments of this multi-talented woman.

Like her father, May was both a polymath - talented in many artistic fields – and a committed socialist. She became Head of Embroidery at the decorative arts firm of Morris & Co at only age twenty-three and also designed wallpapers for the company. May excelled in the field of fine needlework, producing designs, teaching courses, lecturing, and writing numerous articles and a book on the subject.

May co-founded the Women’s Guild of Arts in 1907 to enable female artists and crafts makers to fully engage with and participate in artistic culture. Hitherto, female artists had been restricted by a lack of arts and crafts organisations extending membership to women. The Women’s Guild of Arts enabled members to discuss, develop and exhibit their artworks.⁠ May placed significant efforts on maintaining her father’s legacy and greatly contributed to the literature on William Morris including editing the 24 volumes of her father’s collected works.

May Morris: Art & Advocacy explores May’s designs for Morris & Co., her expertise in decorative needlework, her significant position within the public sphere, her pivotal role in co-founding the Women’s Guild of Arts and her efforts in memorialising her father’s legacy.

The exhibition runs until 24 September in the Coach House, Kelmscott House, 26 Upper Mall, Hammersmith, W6 9TA . It is open Thursdays and Saturday from 2 – 5pm.

The exhibition will have an online presence on the Willam Morris Society web site.

The William Morris Society exists to make better known the life, work and ideas of William Morris, designer, craftsman, poet and socialist. The Society’s premises are in the Coach House and basement of Kelmscott House, Morris’s Hammersmith home for the last 18 years of his life.

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May 30, 2022