An Earthly Paradise: William Morris & The Thames

Last edited by Claire Woods on 14 November 2018

Venue, Timing and Cost

River & Rowing Museum
Friday, 1 February 2019 to Sunday, 14 July 2019
Free with admission. Adult £12.50/Concession £11.50/Students £9.95/Children (4-16) £9.95/Children under 4 free.

This new exhibition illustrates the rich and little-known story of William Morris’ deep connections to the Thames. We bring together a unique selection of works, with loans from the V&A, The William Morris Gallery, British Library, and many more. Highlights include Morris’ Thames series of textiles alongside his original hand-drawn designs, a signed copy of News from Nowhere, and his personal fishing tackle and spectacles. Materials from the Morris & Co. workshop illustrate the production process, while socialist pamphlets that Morris penned and published demonstrate his deep commitment to socialism in later life.

The influence of the Thames and its tributaries flowed through William Morris’ life and work. The river provided the setting for his leisure time spent angling and boating, inspiration for his designs and writing, and the ideal water conditions for the manufacture of his textiles. One notable Thames boat trip from his London home via Henley to his rural retreat in Oxfordshire was so moving that it inspired his socialist utopia novel, News from Nowhere.

Explore the Thames through Morris’ eyes: a beautiful retreat from urban excess and the capitalism he despised, a valuable resource continuing the river’s working heritage, and a rich source of creative inspiration. Step from the exhibition straight out onto the riverbank and find your own earthly paradise.

“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.” William Morris

Exhibition Extras:
Curator’s Tour, Tues 26 Feb at 11am, £6.
An Earthly Paradise, Fri 12 April at 10.30am – 3.30pm, £45.

Visual Arts