30th December 2016
Whilst walking round a very festive Ilkley in Yorkshire last week, we stumbled across a book shop, selling The Twelve Days of Christmas with illustrations by Liz Catchpole (with all the original William Morris artwork belonging to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.)
The special edition of the book takes the classic Christmas carol and allows her to combine Morris’ designs and the lyrics of the song to create this beautiful book which we’re sure will be a firm favourite amongst many for years to come! It was also interesting to read how the V&A has a long association with beginning Christmas traditions; in 1843, the world’s first Christmas card was sent by their founding director, Henry Cole. It was also Prince Albert- V&A’s patron and founder, who began the custom of decorating a Christmas tree in Britain- inspired by the German custom.
Bringing the artwork to life, in line with the song, Liz Catchpole introduces new artwork, heavily influenced by Morris, along with Morris’ classic designs in this book.
Four Calling Birds; Strawberry Thief
This design will always be one of our favourites, not only for the beautiful design itself, but for the glimpse it gives us into Morris’ life. Whilst we can see glimpses of the man through his work ethic, his writings and poetry, his letters and designs, it’s not possible to talk to someone who died over 100 years ago and ask about his day to day life with his friends and family; the undocumented everyday life of someone who’s legacy inspires thousands of designers in particular so long after he created his designs. We therefore love the stories written about his life at Kelmscott Manor, from his letters, or his daughters Jenny and May recollections of their father.
May Morris conjured up this scene when speaking of the design, “You can imagine my Father going out in the early morning and watching the rascally thrushes at work on the fruit beds and telling the fanned who growls ‘I’d like to wring their necks!’ that no bird in the garden must be touched. There were certainly more birds than strawberries in spite of attempts at protection. And the walls of the little dining-room are hung with this note of the June garden and the little lords of it.”
Eleven Pipers Piping; Pimpernel
This Licensed William Morris design was first produced in 1876, the design is named after the small pimpernel flowers rather than the large poppies that dominate it. This pattern can be seen in the Billiard Room at Wightwick Manor which is incredibly beautiful. This design has a green background and cream poppies, we also have the design available in Pimpernel Cream. We love this pattern, producing it in Green and Cream.
This is a beautiful book, if you have chance to pick it up, make sure you do, there’s so many other pages which showcase his designs with a festive twist!