Friday, October 16, 2009

Arty Farty Friday ~ William Morris

William Morris was a pioneer of socialism and ecological thinking in 19th century Britain, as well as being a multi-talented artist, member of the Pre-Rafaelite Brotherhood, and Arts and Crafts artistic movement, a poet, novelist, translator, embroiderer, calligrapher, engraver, gardener, decorator, dyer, weaver, and architectural preservationist. He designed furniture, printed and woven textiles, stained glass, tiles, carpets, tapestry, murals, wallpaper, books and type. He believed that art should be affordable and available to all and that every craftsman was an artist - he eschewed any form of elitism. "My hero" on all counts. Before I looked at his natal chart I just knew there'd be Aquarius in there somewhere.

William Morris was born 24 March 1834 in Walthamstow, Essex, England. No time of birth known, so chart below is set for 12 noon.

I was right! William Morris has an Aries stellium: Sun, Venus, Mercury and Pluto in the energetic sign of the initiator, and Neptune, Mars and Uranus in Aquarius, Mars and Uranus being conjoined - Mars energy drives a leaning towards the new and unusual (Uranus, unsullied in its own sign, Aquarius). Jupiter in Taurus and Saturn in Libra are in exact quincunx (150*), Saturn represents work and discipline, Jupiter is excess and expansion, these two in uncomfortable quincunx aspect = a tendency to overwork and overstretch oneself. In addition Saturn is in opposition to Morris's Aries stellium, adding further to the work dynamic.

Moon was in Virgo at 12 noon, it's not possible to be sure of the degree without a time of birth, if he was born in the very early hours it might be that Moon was in late Leo, but I suspect Virgo is correct - it matches that tendency of his to overwork - the one we've just seen in Saturn quincunx Jupiter. In his own words he confirmed this: "Give me love and work - these two only."

So, William Morris was a dynamo, physically and mentally.
"When William Morris (1834-1896) died at the age of sixty-two, his physician declared that the cause was "simply being William Morris, and having done more work than most ten men." This multi-faceted man was at one time or another (and sometimes simultaneously) a designer and manufacturer of furniture, stained glass, tapestries, wallpaper and chintzes; an accomplished weaver; a pioneering preservationist; an active Socialist and social reformer; a successful poet and novelist; and in his last years, the founder of the Kelmscott Press. Yet all of these activities were of a piece, unified by several threads in the tapestry of Morris's life.
One continuity, dating from early childhood, was his love of nature, evidence of which may be found in the fond natural descriptions of his letters and poetry, the patterns of his tapestries, and the vining borders of the Kelmscott book. There was also his passionate devotion to the Middle Ages and to everything they represented; romantic Medievalism informs Morris's literary output, as well as his arts and crafts work and the books from his Kelmscott Press.
A third thread was his belief that it is impossible to separate esthetic issues from social and political ones. Morris often contrasted the social organization of the Middle Ages with the present condition of England, which led him to advocate a complete reform of industrial society. At first, he advocated an overhaul of the flawed esthetics of the age and later, realizing that such reform alone was insufficient, a thoroughgoing political revolution."

"News from Nowhere", Morris’s famous Socialist novel, is a Utopian fantasy that tells the story of a man who awakes the morning after a Socialist League meeting in a Socialist paradise, where people are free and equal and poverty has been abolished. At the book’s end, the man returns to his own time, but is inspired to bring about what he has dreamed.

Wisdom from William Morris, equally valid today, long after these words were spoken or written :

I hope that we shall have leisure from war, -- war commercial, as well as war of the bullet and the bayonet; leisure from the knowledge that darkens counsel; leisure above all from the greed of money, and the craving for that overwhelming distinction that money now brings: I believe that, as we have even now partly achieved liberty , so we shall achieve equality , and best of all, fraternity , and so have leisure from poverty and all its griping, sordid cares.

History has remembered the kings and warriors, because they destroyed; art has remembered the people, because they created.

I do not want art for a few any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few.

I pondered all these things, and how men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name.

If you want a golden rule that will fit everything, this is it: Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

No man is good enough to be another's master.

La Belle Iseult by William Morris

A William Morris sofa:

Venus and Adonis, from "The Poems of William Shakespeare" Published by Kelmscott Press, 1893, by William Morris.


Ron Southern said...

yOU are always celebrating persons of note and worth and, even if you're never famous for it, it makes me want to celebrate you--you're a jewel, a peach, a delicious and spirit-lifting gorgeous elf!

Twilight said...

Ron ~~~ LOL! Why thank you kindly sir! You gladden this old heart on a morning when I've spent hours on the phone struggling to find logic and justice in the inglorous US healthcare system. :-)

Ef eh? "If a human watched the dance of the elves, he would discover that even though only a few hours seemed to have passed, many years had passed in the real world." (Wiki)

Wanna see me dance? ;-)

Ron Southern said...

Why, you got a Youtube of it?!

Anyway, it must be hard word to be so admired, but you'll just have to live with it--I can't do a thing for you!!!

Wisewebwoman said...

Consider me part of the Great Twilight Fan Club!!
William Morris has always astonished me, there was absolutely no end to his talent and his works and writing are as important today as they day he created them.
Lovely post, T!

Twilight said...

Ron ~~~ It's kind of you to encourage me, sir. If I were half the writer you could be I might deserve it. :-)

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~~ Oh, I'm glad you like him too. If I had to choose just one arty-farty person from the legions of 'em to be my hero, William Morris would be "the one".

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ ....and thank you for your kind words! :-)

The Next President of the United States said...

See, it's just like Sean, Rush, Bill, Glenn and all the TRUE AHMURICANS have been saying, you libbies are just want to turn the whole world into some misbegotten socialist anarchy trough. And here you are using some namby-pamby artist as an example. You ain't an Ahmurican, are ya?!

Twilight said...

TNPOTUS ~~~ Thankfully not - at least not by birth. I'm here in OK among heathen savages in the way of a missionary, don't ya know?
;-) Come on... join in a chorus of The Red Flag:

Then raise the scarlet standard high.
Within its shade we'll live and die,
Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
We'll keep the red flag flying here.

Michelle said...

I absolutely adored His art as a teen, all the Romantic and Art Noveau type stuff. Nowadays I find it a bit too busy to actually want it in my home with, but I still love looking at it.

Twilight said...

Michelle ~~~Hi! I agree that it would be too much to have his patterns over all walls in a room these days. I used to make cushion covers from materials with his designs, and at one time, back in the 1970s we had one wall of the living room covered with WM wallpaper, the rest plain. In any case the wallpaper was too expensive to go the whole hog. :-)