Friday, 4 January 2013

A Victorian Hipster

Few things will make me cycle to Walthamstow, but William Morris is one.

The textile designer, painter, writer and social activist grew up in this district of North East London in the middle of the 19th century (then the countryside in Essex). His childhood home now houses the excellent William Morris Gallery

What struck me most during the visit is how curiously close Morris' values were to today's Hipster/Bobo/Wholefoods movements: 

He came from a privileged background, rejected the mass production of the industrializing Victorian age, and longed to return to the aesthetics and working methods of the past (vintage!). 
He also wore a beard, hung out with artists (Pre-Raphealites), and founded an alternative design company (William Morris & Co)

William Morris (right) with his friend, the Pre-Raphealite painter Edward Burne-Jones

Any doubts? Without having foreseen their mass reproduction, Mr. Morris might just be the forefather of all hipsters. 

So go, 
on your pilgrimage to Walthamstow. 

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