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Artist asks: What would Morris make of textspeak?

A new exhibition at the William Morris Gallery considers the impact of “textspeak” on the English language.

In ‘Language cannot be dead’, artist Adam Hogarth takes words and phrases found on the internet and presents them as a series of beautifully crafted etchings, using Morris’s own wallpaper and textile designs as backgrounds.

By invoking Morris, Hogarth asks if the great designer’s concerns about the loss of craft traditions can be applied to the English language today.

Also on display in the Gallery’s Tea Room are two large floral tributes produced especially for the exhibition. With one spelling out “FAKE LULZ” and the other “GIVE ME LUV N WORK” (from Morris’s famous quote), the pieces act as ironic memorials for what Hogarth sees as a dying language.

The exhibition is particularly topical as the new edition of the Oxford English Dictionary contains “twerk” and “meh”, among other words popular on the internet. Hogarth’s work asks whether this shift in written language is limiting the expressive possibilities of English.

Adam Hogarth said: “The exhibition explores my concern that the condensing of language online is reducing the potential for expression. The works invite the viewer to consider what we might be losing as the English language becomes ever more abbreviated.

“I use William Morris as a point of reference because of his belief in preserving and protecting traditional craft techniques. I believe that his attitude towards the preservation of a creative legacy can be applied to language within the modern age.”

Council Leader Chris Robbins said: “This exhibition perfectly reflects the Gallery’s ambition to approach William Morris and his legacy in new and exciting ways. I hope residents go and see for themselves what it’s all about and, for those that don’t already know, find out everything else the award-winning Gallery has to offer.”

Notes to editors

Adam Hogarth: Language cannot be dead

An exhibition in the Discovery Lounge and Tea Room

Until 30 August 2015

William Morris Gallery

Forest Road, London E17 4PP

Wednesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm; admission free

For further information and images please contact Ian Mason:

Tel: 020 8496 4726

Mob: 07740 046143


About the William Morris Gallery

The William Morris Gallery is the only public Gallery devoted to William Morris: designer, craftsman and radical socialist. Housed in the grade II* listed building that was Morris's family home from 1848 to 1856, the Gallery reopened in August 2012 following a major redevelopment that attracted widespread public and press acclaim.

Since its relaunch the Gallery has developed an ambitious contemporary programme, hosting Morris-inspired exhibitions by artists including Grayson Perry, Jeremy Deller and Yinka Shonibare.

The Gallery, which is owned and run by Waltham Forest Council, was awarded the Art Fund prize for Museum of the Year in 2013 and was nominated for the European Museum of the Year Award in 2014.

Adam Hogarth

Adam Hogarth is an artist based in London, UK. In 2013 he graduated from the Royal College of Art with an MA in Fine Art Printmaking. He has exhibited nationally and internationally and was selected for the 2013 Bloomberg New Contemporaries which was exhibited at the ICA London and Spike Island, Bristol.

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