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“Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort.” – John Ruskin

8th February 2017

Born on this day in 1819, John Ruskin remains remembered as one of the most influential intellectuals and activists of the Victorian Age. You may have heard of his name in relation to the Arts & Crafts Movement due to the fact William Morris (often deemed the ‘father’ of the movement) held Ruskin and his work in such high regard and was strongly influenced by both his writings and social commentaries. Morris recalled being first introduced to Ruskin’s work, “To some of us when we first read it, now many years ago, it seemed to point out a new road which the world should travel.”

It can be claimed that it was Ruskin and his writings during the 19th Century which laid the foundations for the Arts & Crafts movement to flourish. The most important idea was that he called for a revival of traditional craftsmanship- as we’ve written about in past blogs, the Movement was fronted by those that saw industrialisation was killing artistry and craftsmanship for the ordinary man. This came from Ruskin in two of his most influential works, “The Seven Lamps of Architecture” (1849) and “The Stones of Venice” (1851-53- a trilogy works.)

Born in London to Margaret and John James, he was home schooled and well educated. His appreciation of art and literature came from his father, a prosperous sherry importer and art collector; he encouraged his son to take an interest in the arts. His mother was a Evangelical Christian, so raised in this environment he had Christian ideals instilled upon him from a young age; reading the Bible every morning from the age of 3.

Aged 11 he published his first poem- and his first prose at 15 showing talent from an early age! Attending Christ Church, Oxford in 1843, during his years here he not only earned a reputation for being a fine watercolour artist, but also won the Oxford Newdigate Poetry Competition in 1839 and was presented the award by William Wordsworth- an idol of his during his youth.

 

Ruskin with William Holman Hunt

 

One example of Ruskin’s views towards industrialisation comes from volume II of his ‘The Stones of Venice’ series;

“And the great cry that rises from all our manufacturing cities, louder than their furnace blast, is all in very deed for this- that we manufacture everything there except men; we blanch cotton, and strengthen steel, and refine sugar, and shape pottery; but to brighten, to strengthen, to refine, or to form a single living spirit, never enters into our estimate of advantages.” – John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice: Volume II (1853.)

Looking back through history, there are always figures we need to thank for their contributions to keeping beautiful architecture preserved and restored so we can still see it today. Ruskin is one such figure- interested in the Gothic Revival he saw it as a huge importance to preserve and restore Gothic architecture of the Middle Ages.

Also, Ruskin was known for his support of Pre-Rephaelitism as a movement, and the artists within the movement- writing of his support.

A visionary of the time, he spoke and wrote about topics not popular common issues at the time. These included women’s education, minimum wage, pensions, global warming and pollution among many others. Not only is he remembered today for his own writings and works, but the ideas he had at the time which were far beyond the time he lived in. We also remember him for the influence he gave to Morris, and how his ideas helped Morris’ own to flourish.

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Dreaming of the sunshine 💭 This is our smallest size of tote bag, in our licensed William Morris Strawberry Thief, on this bike ride we were pretty happy that it was filled to the brim with snacks to eat on the beach ☀️ On Wintery nights we love to look back on the sunshine! ☁️
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We're so thrilled our new website is now live! 🌿Just in time for Christmas shopping, it's much easier to use, and still full of beautiful licensed William Morris designs on every page! We hope you like the change, especially where lots of you are featured on the new 'inspiration' page! 🌟 We absolutely love that it showcases everyones tablescapes and craft projects, just click on them to see the design and who posted the photo so you can see more of their content ☺️ If you're happy for us to use your photos, just send us a message, we'd love it to be a page we can keep adding to throughout the seasons 🪴
Special thank you to @adigi_agency for creating our website, we love it! 🤍
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A few of our licensed William Morris designs all hanging out, aren’t they iconic! It’s amazing that you can see a Morris print and instantly know it’s his design 🌿
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Hands up if you’re a Golden Lily fan 🙋‍♀️ Our licensed William Morris design tea towels make excellent Christmas gifts if you’re writing your Christmas list!🎄 
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Always brightening up the kitchen; Willow Bough 🌿 What a special design ✨
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Fabric stack of floral dreams 💭
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We'd say Morris more than succeeded, with timeless designs and words, it shows true beauty and art will never age 🌿 Morris wrote this quote in "The Well At The World's End: Volume I." Have you ever read much of his poetry or writing? ✍️
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A little fabric stack full of William Morris floral magic 🌿
Is anyone else a little excited that it's only 100 days until Christmas... or is it too soon to talk about? We're quite excited for Christmas crafts, food and films! ☺️ We wonder what your favourite Morris design is? Does it change based on season? 🎄 (it's far too early for this emoji but we're excited and can't help it, sorry.)
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Important conversation of the day at Laura's Beau HQ: who fancies a crumble and which is your favourite flavour? 🍎 Apple seems popular, so does rhubarb ☀️ One thing we can agree on is that we're all going to be baking them tonight - best get our fave oven gloves out! 👩‍🍳 These are our licensed William Morris Eyebright double oven gloves, isn't it such a beautiful pattern 🤍
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Because the three designs were produced using a hand printing process, each colour needed a separate block and for the three designs it was 12 blocks each so was a long and expensive process. Therefore, they were all put on hold until the early 1870s when Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & co. had enough money to finance the designs 🎨We love the Trellis design, currently our tea towel is hanging over the cooker - we always wonder if Morris could ever have foreseen that his design in 1864 would be so well loved all these years later? 🤍
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