David Bailey, William Morris and Walthamstow


David Bailey’s East End Faces is currently on display at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow. As a Walthamstow resident-to-be – I thought it prudent to check out the weekend vibes in my new area, as well support the art scene and learn a bit about William Morris: local 19th Century hero.

The gallery is based in a listed Georgian house, once home to William Morris and his family, in Lloyd Park, and was refurbished in August 2012. There’s now a glass box cafe out the back – blindingly bright, in the best possible way – looking out over the gardens.

Bailey’s contribution was a little disappointing – one small room of photographs – but they give you a real taste of 1960s east end London:

The Rio Club 1968

William Morris

I didn’t know he was also a printer, poet, socialist, fashion designer…

The first floor of the house-cum-gallery is dedicated to Morris: his work, ideals, achievements. He believed that art should be inclusive and accessible to everyone (the gallery is free), and started socialist rallies promoting his communist ideals.

william morris socialism

There are quotes lining the walls, from Conran – amongst other designers, artists, writers and makers – all paying homage to Morris’ work and ethics.

After a lovely lunch in the gallery, we walked to (what Walthamstow claims to be) the longest market in Europe and had a wander through – past colourful African textiles, stalls blaring reggae, fruit & veg – and then made our way to The Village. The so-called village is actually one road: Orford Road, with a handful of restaurants, pubs and cafes – but the surrounding residential area does have a village-feel to it.

Walthamstow is rather quaint and – though the market was rammed, and there were lots of families and couples wandering around the village – peaceful.

We had a cup of tea and a slice of lemon drizzle cake then walked to Hoe Street, where I hopped on a 48 bus to Clapton and Mum got on the (very convenient) Victoria Line to Finsbury Park. We were both home in about 15 minutes.

Looking forward to moving to Walthamstow and uncovering more of the hidden gems I’ve been reading about: the Mill, theatre and poetry at the Rose and Crown, a couple of newly-taken over pubs…

3 replies on “ David Bailey, William Morris and Walthamstow ”
  1. Morris is a fascinating chap. Fundamentally flawed though – he wanted to bring beautiful art and design to the masses as he felt it shouldn’t be the sole preserve of the rich. However he was so insistent that everything should be handcrafted and refused to succumb to mass production techniques that everything he did could only be afforded by the wealthy.

    In conclusion: IKEA is the modern day manifestation of Morris’s ideals. Blergh.

    1. … the irony. But positive that a free art gallery has been opened in his name for the east-enders who might not have been able to afford his designs. Art doesn’t have to be owned to be appreciated.

      1. Hi, I was interested to see your post. I hope you don’t mind but I linked it to one of mine about the Bailey exhibition.

        If I can make two points that people not from here might not realise: the first being that people in Walthamstow are not East Enders. The place has its own character and history without having to borrow other peoples’. The people of the East End fled to Walthamstow to get away from there. The modern conflation with the East End is mainly collateral damage caused by a second rate TV soap which lazy BBC scriptwriters pretend is partly based on this area.

        Walthamstow at the time when Morris lived here was one of the richer parts of the country. It was not in London, it was West Essex.

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