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Clare Twomey at William Morris Gallery - “living artwork” explores Morris’s craft ideals

A “living artwork” by world renowned ceramicist Clare Twomey has opened at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow.

For the new installation - Time Present and Time Past - Twomey has transformed the Gallery’s special exhibition space into a live ceramics studio. At its centre is a vast tile panel embellished with William Morris’s intricate Chrysanthemum design, one of the most popular objects from the Gallery’s collection.

Over 68 days, 68 members of the public will undertake the role of “apprentice”, working alongside Twomey’s master painter to apply 22 carat gold enamel to the surface of the panel. Visitors observe the apprentices at work, slowly transforming the panel from one state of beauty to another.

 The installation asks visitors to consider how skills are passed on and refined over generations, and how practising a craft can connect us through time and space with other makers.

The process of recruiting the apprentices, which is free and open to all, will continue throughout the life of the exhibition.

Twomey will discuss the ideas behind Time Present and Time Past at a special Q&A event at the Gallery on 21 July at 7pm.

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.”

The Gallery, home to the world’s largest collection of Morris’s work, asked Twomey to develop a proposal for a Morris-inspired installation earlier this year. The Gallery, which is owned and run by Waltham Forest Council, then raised £10,000 towards the cost of realising Twomey’s plans through the Art Fund’s crowdfunding platform Art Happens.

Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said: “We’re delighted that the William Morris Gallery’s Art Happens campaign was so successful, showing there is great public enthusiasm for their ambitious project with artist Clare Twomey.  Her vision to work with apprenticed members of the public chimes with William Morris’ belief in art for all and we’re pleased to have played a part in bringing this inspiring project to life.”

Council Leader Chris Robbins said: “This is a really exciting project and I’m pleased the public got behind it. Clare is widely regarded as one of our most important and innovative ceramicists – and her installation will bring a fascinating new perspective on Morris’s ideas and ideals.”

Notes to editors

Clare Twomey: Time Present and Time Past

William Morris Gallery

Until 18 September 2016

Wednesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm. Free entry.

For further information and images please contact Ian Mason:

Tel: 020 8496 4726

Mob: 07740 046143


Anyone aged 16 or over can enter the ballot to become an apprentice for the day. You don’t have to have any experience in painting or working with ceramics, instead you will be trained on the job by one of Twomey's master painters. Places are available Wednesdays to Sundays - enter the ballot online.

Tickets for the Q&A with Clare Twomey (21 July, 7pm) can be booked via Eventbrite:

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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