The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Save the William Morris Gallery campaign update

Since Amy drew our attention to the plight of the William Morris Gallery, the campaign has gathered apace. The following link is to the Guardian newspaper who have written an interesting article about the Gallery and the work of William Morris.

http://arts.guardian.co.uk/art/design/story/0,,2058882,00.html

More depressingly it has an angle on the attitude of Waltham Council who, despite using a phrase from one of Morris' literary works as their motto, feels he is no longer relevant to contemporary society. Before I launched into a scathing attack on the limited horizons of some council members it struck me that perhaps such an attitude grows out of a general embarrassment about the 19th century? It is not fashionable to be a 19th century intellectual either, poor Marx has already fallen out of favour.

Anyway, I am sure there are lots of reasons why Morris is no longer popular or tolerable in present society, and I am certain that he would not be entirely happy with the shiny baubles and bright packaging of the 'new' global capitalism either. If anything, surely his messages of beauty and usefulness are even more important today in a world which could, if you were feeling especially pessimistic, be seen as one of junk and artifice?

2 comments:

Amy said...

Thanks for this lovely post Ceri. You know, what disturbed me most in this article was the comment that Morris is no longer relevant to today's society, that he was just another white imperialist. Clearly the people on the council making the decisions haven't a clue what they're talking about (nor even of the heritage of their own organisation - afterall, it is a quote from Morris that Waltham Forest uses as its motto). Which goes to show the importance of museums and just exactly why the William Morris Museums needs to remain open! It begs the question, have they even visited the museum? Plus, the idea that anything no longer relevant to today's society isn't worth preserving is - frankly - bizarre!

Clearly, despite the good work being done by RCMG, for example, and Government initiatives to promote museums and heritage, there is still a strong contingent of people out there who believe art and history are elitist and irrelevant. One only has to consider the recent actions of Bury Council to see that: http://attic-museumstudies.blogspot.com/2006/11/round-up.html

Ceri said...

I used to take the stories of Councils being PC mad with a pinch of salt but this seems to have a ring of truth about it. I imagine Morris is not 'working class' enough to be a viable hero for today's generation. It does lead to some ironies, for example (and I have a guidebook to thank for this fact but cannot remember the name at the moment) outside Sheffield Town Hall in the Peace Gardens there is a memorial to the Chartist martyr Samuel Holberry. He died in York prison after being arrested in the attempt to blow up the predecessor of the town hall which he is now commemorated outside! Yes he was mistreated in prison and quite rightly should be remembered but it is amusing how the establishment now embraces a clearly anti-establishment figure. Anyway, I totally agree with you that it is ludicrous that Waltham Forest do not know the wealth on their own doorstep.