Tag Archives: William Morris

Savage Aesthetics

One passage in William Morris’s News from Nowhere (1890) has haunted me since I read it. The protagonist is navigating the Thames river and passes through an old style pound lock and wonders why the centuries old technology is still in use. In this pastoral vision of the future, the answer he’s given is this: ‘You see, […]

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Home

I’ve been obsessed with questions about home as a concept for years. I drift in and out of them, but it always seems to come back around to that. The final section of Rybczynski’s The Most Beautiful Home in the World sent me in a direction I wasn’t expecting, to Carl and Karin Larsson. My wife of, of […]

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Researching Ruskin

I’ve been researching the foundations of Arts and Crafts as a social movement off and on for over a decade now; a decade ago I didn’t even have that label to place on it. At the center, for most people, is John Ruskin. The problem is that I find Ruskin to be deadly dull. This […]

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Merton Abbey

Because his Queen’s Square workshops proved too small to weave carpets or dye textiles, in 1882 Morris consolidated all production processes, except furniture, at a new workshop about an hour away from London. Merton Abbey seemed a dream factory. About one hundred people labored there; a few were day workers, but most worked by the […]

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Reading Josiah Wedgwood

One of the most easily predictable things about late nineteenth/early twentieth century writing is the consistent call to dead white men for authority. In Herbert Read’s case, the two major figures he summons are Josiah Wedgwood and William Morris. Morris, I have some familiarity with; Wedgwood was more of a mystery to me so I did […]

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a mortal wound to craftsmanship

Q. What is lacking in the artist-craftsman? A. His products are so few and so expensive. They are more decorative than useful. Even if they are made for use they are expensive and therefore not employed in daily life, thus becoming luxury items. From the very beginning they are made for art collectors, and become […]

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Locating David Pye

As I’ve deepened my readings/re-readings of David Pye over the years, some interesting things have started to pop out at me. He’s got an Aristotelian knack for taxonomies and frameworks, but there are some real prejudices in there that are troubling. First, he clearly privileges the visual over the tactile; second, he’s strongly biased against […]

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a civilization ‘outside in’

The art forms of a community are the crystallizations of its culture (which may indeed be a different thing from its civilization), and pottery traditions art no exception to the rule. In the T’ang period it is not difficult to recognize the Chinese genius for synthesis, here reinterpreting Greek and Buddhist ideology in terms of […]

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Seeing Beauty

No experience can advance the cause of the handicrafts more than the cultivation of the habit of seeing beauty all along the way of life. An increasing number of our people are cultivating that habit and are practicing in their homes the sound and satisfying principle expressed by the great craftsman, teacher, and philosopher of […]

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Public and Private Beauty

There is a distinct abuse of bulleted lists in Segal’s book. Nonetheless, many of the concepts buried in these bullets deserve close attention and comparison with other variations on the general ideas.  The “graceful” aspect of Segal’s formulation of graceful simplicity is steeped in aesthetic values which converge and diverge with earlier deployments of the […]

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