Hosted in partnership with the William Morris Gallery (WMG) in Walthamstow, which was closed for refurbishment at the time, Two Temple Place provided a wonderful opportunity to showcase the WMG collection alongside some exciting loans from public and private lenders. As the first exhibition at Two Temple Place, it achieved great public and critical acclaim.
The exhibition addressed how William Morris told stories through pattern and poetry; through examination of tales that were most important to him, such as the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, Norse saga, Arthurian legend and Greek myth. Morris returned to the same stories throughout his artistic career, and the exhibition explored his continued fascination by arranging the works according to the tale they tell rather than their medium.
Five rarely seen panels of the embroidered frieze ‘The Romaunt of the Rose’ were exhibited together with editions of ‘The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer’, elaborately illustrated by Morris and Edward Burne-Jones and printed by Morris’ private press. Both the frieze and Chaucer draw inspiration from the French medieval text the ‘Roman de la Rose’ (Romance of the Rose). This was the first time that these exquisite panels had been seen since their recent conservation by The Royal School of Needlework.
The exhibition was curated by Dr. Esmé Whittaker, one of the UK’s most promising curatorial talents.