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William Morris Gallery and Clare Twomey call on public to make Art Happen

The William Morris Gallery is calling on art lovers to help crowdfund a major new art installation by leading ceramicist Clare Twomey.

The Gallery, home to the world’s largest collection of Morris’s work, is working with Twomey to develop the project that – if successful – will see the Gallery’s special exhibition space transformed into a performative ceramics studio this summer.

Twomey will create a vast tile panel, embellished with one of Morris’s most intricate designs. Over 67 days, 67 members of the public will undertake the role of “apprentice”, working alongside Twomey’s master painter to transform the original Morris designed surface from the original state of beauty to another, with the addition of a traditional ceramic gold enamel.

Through the intensive process of watching, mirroring and learning – which would have been familiar to Morris’s own apprentices – the work will explore how practising a skill can connect us through time and space to other people.

To realise the project the Gallery, which is owned and run by Waltham Forest Council, needs to raise £10,000 through the Art Fund’s Art Happens site, the UK’s only crowdfunding platform for the museum sector.

The appeal, which will launch on Thursday March 17 at 12pm, offers exclusive rewards to donors for as little as £5, including postcard packs, tote bags and exclusive artworks designed by Twomey.

Council Leader Chris Robbins said: “This is a hugely exciting project and one which I hope the public will get behind and support so that, together, we can bring this proposed art installation to life.

"As well as capturing the imagination of those taking part in the project, I hope the installation will bring a fascinating new perspective on Morris’s ideas and ideals for visitors to experience.”

Clare Twomey said: “To create this living work will be to observe, recount and to pass on skills as an act of ritual that will deepen our understanding of how Morris achieved and lived out his philosophical dreams.”

Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said: “The much-loved William Morris Gallery was our Museum of the Year 2013 and we are so pleased that they are now using our successful crowdfunding platform for their project with Clare Twomey.  I urge people to dig deep, get hold of a special reward, and help bring this wonderful project to fruition.”

Art Happens has already successfully crowdfunded for museums and galleries including:

  • A project to help restore and conserve the painted surfaces of Charleston House’s Kitchen, Library and Spare Room (£32,404, 336 donors) 

  • A major exhibition of the Chapman Brothers at Jerwood Gallery, Hastings (£29,528, 166 donors) 

  • An important exhibition at the Foundling Museum revealing for the first time the fascinating stories of the Victorian women who gave up their babies to the Foundling Hospital (£25,383, 198 donors)

Notes to editors

For further information and images please contact Ian Mason:

Tel: 020 8496 4726

Mob: 07740 046143


Art fans can donate and secure their reward at until Thursday 21 April.

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 re-launch the Gallery has developed an ambitious contemporary programme, hosting Morris-inspired exhibitions by artists including Grayson Perry, Jeremy Deller, Yinka Shonibare and Bob and Roberta Smith.

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.

Clare Twomey

Clare Twomey (b.1968) is a British artist and a research fellow at the University of Westminster who works with clay in large-scale installations, sculptural and site-specific work. Over the past 10 years she has exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate, Crafts Council, Museum of Modern Art Kyoto, Japan, Eden Project, Royal Academy of Arts and Gardiner Museum, Toronto. Her work often involves elements of performance or participation, inviting the audience to play an active role and exploring the relationship between people and materials.

The Art Fund

The Art Fund is the national fundraising charity for art. In the past five years it has given £34 million to help museums and galleries acquire works of art for their collections. The Art Fund also helps museums share their collections with wider audiences by supporting a range of tours and exhibitions (including ARTIST ROOMS and the 2013-18 exhibition tour of Tate’s Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows by John Constable) and makes additional grants to support the training and professional development of curators.

The Art Fund is independently-funded, with the core of its income provided by 122,000 members who receive the National Art Pass and enjoy free entry to over 225 museums, galleries and historic places across the UK, as well as 50% off entry to major exhibitions. In addition to grant-giving, the Art Fund’s support for museums includes the annual Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year, a publications programme and a range of digital platforms.

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