Explore the life and work of May Morris, daughter of William Morris and one of the most significant artists of the Arts and Crafts movement.
Bringing together over 80 original textiles and drawings from collections around the UK, the exhibition explores May’s extraordinary body of work, and why she deserves recognition outside her familial namesake.
For more than 100 years May’s contribution to the decorative arts, in particular to embroidery, has languished behind her father’s illustrious career. Revealing the breadth of May’s creative pursuits, the exhibition features wallpaper and embroidery alongside jewellery, dresses and book designs, as well as sketches and watercolours, which May painted throughout her lifetime.
At the age of 23 May took charge of the Morris & Co embroidery department and was responsible for creating some of the company’s most iconic textile and wallpaper designs. With a focus on May’s role in the development of art embroidery – elevating needlework from a domestic craft to a serious art form – the show highlights the extent of her influence in the UK and abroad, particularly the US.
Seeking an alternative to the Art Workers Guild, which did not accept female members until as late as 1964, May also founded the Women’s Guild of Art in 1907 to provide a forum for social and professional networking within the arts and in her own words 'to meet women who are not playing at art’.
May Morris: Art & Life was originally created in 2017 by William Morris Gallery London through Art Fund's crowdfunding platform Art Happens.