Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day #6&8: William Morris & the Arts and Crafts Movement

The Arts & Crafts movement was a design movement that arose in the second half of the 1800’s. In response to the aggressive expansion of industry and shoddiness of mass produced items, artists of the movement sought to return to hand produced crafts. William Morris became the leader of the group with the establishment of his business Morris & Co, which produced many handmade textiles, wallpapers, and furniture, as well as his Kelmscott Press printing company.

A very strong underlying theme in our trip was the Arts & Crafts movement, we visited lots of relevant sites and it somehow managed to sneak into unsuspecting places as well. So obviously the first stop on our Arts & Crafts tour had to be the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow. This we followed up later with another walk along the Thames past the original home of the Kelmscott Press in Hammersmith and on to the home of Emery Walker, the immaculately preserved Arts & Crafts home of a printer who worked with Morris.

  Along the River Thames in Hammersmith

Read more about the stops on our Arts & Crafts tour after the jump...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Day #5: Kew Gardens

While gardens and plants are a major source of inspiration for artists and designers I will try and keep my slideshow of pictures of plants to a minimum, though my unfortunate boyfriend will not be as lucky as the rest of you. But, I mostly want to focus on the piece of art we found there.

My mother and her grade school friend, our wonderful host, both love gardens and are avid gardeners so it only made sense we would end up in a garden eventually. But Kew, the Royal Botanical Gardens, is an absolutely breathtaking park with an extraordinary variety of plants, trees, greenhouses and gardens (there were even live peacocks just wandering around). 

When we came out of the first huge greenhouse we discovered our (non-vegetative) favorite thing in the park, which was the Rose Garden Tea Party, an installation created by Kirsti Davies & Giles Thaxton which featured a variety of edible plants growing up from china planters all across the table. Depending on where you sat the table and china would inform you what theme you were looking at, such as plants used in fizzy drinks. The beautifully crafted china then labelled the plants and hinted at how the plants were applied to food and beverages.

One of the artists was actually there as we were admiring the table, recoloring the text on the table. She fun to talk to and had a lot to offer about the production of the china. My only complaint would be that I couldn’t buy these for my own table.

Learn more about the incredible process of this creation here: http://incredibleteaparty.co.uk/

Day #4&7: The V&A

The Victoria & Albert Museum in London is one of my favorite museums I have ever been to. It’s the worlds largest design and decorative arts museum with a collection housing over 4.5 million objects. Oh and did I mention admission is free? Because it is. I love that most of the museum is not just pictures on a wall, instead there are whole galleries dedicated to iron works, mosaics, theater design, stained glass, jewelry and so much more. We had visited the V&A on our last trip to London and realized we hadn’t even scratched the surface of their collection and had to return. We spent most of our time in the Theater & Performance Gallery as well as in their Cast Courts. See more of our favorite pieces after the jump...

Day #1: Eel Pie Island

This time last week I was just getting home from my trip to London! My mother, sister and I went for a summer adventure and spent a little over a week exploring with an old friend of my mother's from grade school who lives there now. The following posts are going to be quite a bit about the things we did there...

In Twickenham, set in the middle of the River Thames is Eel Pie Island. The private island is accessible exclusively by footbridge and is only opened to non-residents on a few rare occasions. The island used to be home to the Eel Pie Island Hotel, which was once famous for performances from many infamous groups such as the Rolling Stones, The Who and David Bowie. The hotel mysteriously burned down in 1967, after which the island became known for being the largest hippie commune in the United Kingdom.

Now Eel Pie Island is mostly home to artists and their eccentric studios. The week we were in London happened to coincide with one of the island’s rare ‘Open Studios’ day and our gracious host took us down along the Thames to see this strange place. 

Read more about our Eel Pie Island adventure after the jump...