ARTS AND CRAFTS FOR ALL SEASONS – WINTER 121/14 Vase by Nicola Slaney of Moorcroft


Arts & Crafts Winter 121/14 by Nicola Slaney of Moorcroft

John Henry Dearle (1859–1932) began his 54 years of employment with Morris & Coworking in the firm’s Oxford Street shop. William Morris took Dearle under his wing and trained him to work as his tapestry assistant where he created 30 patterns for wallpaper and 40 for textiles, which included the famous Golden Lily, Seaweed, Compton, Sweet Briar, Anemone, Artichoke, and Daffodil designs.

William Morris is well known for taking inspiration from medieval European art, but perhaps less for his interest in historic textiles from the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. Nicola felt Morris’s Snakehead (1876) fabric, inspired by crisp, vibrant, contrasting reds and blues, was simply perfect for Winter. She knew that Morris disliked the cheaper chemical dyes used in mass manufacture and had spent ten years working with a Staffordshire silk dyer named Thomas Wardle to revive their use.

A central golden flower glides up the elongated vase, while white lilies decorated with myriad freehand painted tiny dots, blast away Morris’s flat patterns most suited for fabric, and into a three-dimensional vista, alive in colour and movement. With hints of paisley patterns so closely associated with India, tiny, blue tear-drop flowers dance right up to the lip of the vase as cherry, icy-blue and delicate amber blooms swoon before the lily, which moves side-to-side as if following a snake-charmers flute.