Morris & Co. Inspired by Nature exhibition at Standen

The Hall outside the Dining Room at Standen House, West Sussex

This summer a new exhibition at Standen House & Garden explores the inspiration behind the popular patterns of flowers and birds in designs by Arts & Crafts firm Morris & Co. From Saturday 1 June until Sunday 10 November 2019.

William Morris (1834-1896), founding father of the Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain, designed some of the most recognisable textile patterns of the nineteenth century. The creative force behind Morris & Co., which produced his designs, Morris had a love of nature which influenced his work.

His designs for fabrics, wallpapers, tapestries and embroideries show how much he celebrated nature in his work: 'I must have unmistakable suggestions of gardens and fields, and strange trees, boughs and tendrils, or I can’t do with your pattern.'

Discover the drawing room at Standen full of William Morris designs
The drawing room at Standen
Discover the drawing room at Standen full of William Morris designs

At Standen, Morris & Co. patterns were chosen for furnishings throughout the Beale's home and exemplify the popularity of bringing nature indoors.

The exhibition will invite visitors to discover how repeating patterns of flowers and birds in Morris & Co. designs were chosen, and the value that Morris placed on the revival of traditional skills and techniques including natural dyeing and tapestry weaving.

" It is only in our Show Room, 449 Oxford Street, that our goods can be seen together….and so give a true idea of the decoration that we recommend."
- Morris & Co. circular dated 1882.

In collaboration with Morris & Co., which still produces his designs today, the exhibition will include a recreation of  the company’s original showroom and enable visitors to experience how customers like the Beale family selected products for their homes.

Wallpaper blocks for Larkspur from Morris & Co.’s archive, the original drawing for Daffodil from the William Morris Gallery, and Fox and Hare, two drawings by Standen’s architect Philip Webb from the National Trust’s Wightwick Manor, are among the items on display.

" The exhibition will celebrate Standen’s well-known collection of Morris & Co. patterns and reveal the process behind their creation, so we are really excited to be able to display the original woodblocks used to print the wallpapers seen in the house. "
- Alice Strickland, National Trust curator

‘Inspired by Nature’ will extend from the house across the garden and wider estate. A programme of events will include talks, craft workshops and family events, and the chance to see plants such as pomegranate, rose and honeysuckle in the conservatory and garden, reflecting those in Morris and Co.’s patterns. 

See the inspiration behind Morris & Co.'s designs at Standen
Girl looking at Morris & Co wallpaper samples
See the inspiration behind Morris & Co.'s designs at Standen

A trail inspired by William Morris’s poem Tapestry Trees will lead visitors through the Arts & Crafts garden overlooking the Sussex Weald, showing why each of the trees including oak, ash and yew was important to Morris.

Morris & Co. Inspired by Nature is on at Standen House and Garden from Saturday 1 June until Sunday 10 November 2019.

Sponsored by Morris & Co.