Interview: Clare Twomey


1. What was your thinking behind Time Present and Time Past?

The idea behind the project is to bring life to what has been achieved by William Morris. I’m interested in how we perceive history and its heroes. Even though history is in the past, I’m curious as to how it is reflected in our present time and how it will affect the future. Not all history is gone – some of it is with us in the present.

I would like to bring this idea to the William Morris Gallery. The practical part of the project – the making of the tile installation – in particular is very much about the skills we have in our hands. I hope it will lead people to ask themselves whether they remember the making process. We use skills that were used in the past, but do we remember where they came from and how they got here?

2. Why did you choose to use William Morris’s Chrysanthemum design?

Morris didn’t finish the design so you can see the moment of creation. There is a lovely section at the bottom of the drawing which shows that the work was in process. There is something quite enchanting about a work in process because so many things are handed to us complete. Although unfinished, the drawing has so much potential. I think potential is where a lot creativity can exist.

3. Has William Morris influenced your work in the past?

His work is so lovely. My mum was a seamstress so we grew up with Morris. As a child, I remember being taken around the museums, like the V&A, and seeing his work. But William Morris has influenced so many designs. When you go to the William Morris Gallery and see their collection, you will realise how much of his work surrounds you.

4. What drew you to working with ceramics?

Ceramics is a material that can do anything. It is incredibly malleable. I went through arts school thinking my only love would be painting, but then I tried ceramics. I found clay could be three-dimensional, it can expressive, it can be any colour or size you want it to be. Suddenly, you can walk around it and touch it. So the material itself is incredible.

It is also a very common material – people grow up with clay. It’s a material that people have no problem connecting with because it is familiar. Everyone feels comfortable talking about it and this commonality is very uniting.

When you start to understand ceramics, you begin to recognise the historical nuances of the material. For instance, a work made from red terracotta will speak a very different language to one that is made out of fine bone china.

5. Why should people support Time Present and Time Past?

This is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate William Morris and his work. It is about engaging with his work in ways that are a little less ordinary. It is a rare chance to help something live.

You can support William Morris Gallery's project, Time Present and Time Past, through the crowdfunding platform Art Happens. Donate now and receive a beautiful reward.

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