On a beautiful sunny Saturday, I went out to visit the May Morris Exhibition at the Dovecot! I find blog exhibition posts particularly tricky to do, because I always take thousands of photos than feel overwhelmed when I have to post them all! My phone camera has a very high resolution too, so it means I individually resize every photograph uploaded on this blog. The more you know!

My overall favorite pieces created by May Morris were her more tapestry style and artistic embroidery pieces.

I also really enjoy how she has a thin outline stitched around her florals to define them further. As someone who prefers more stylized and defined drawings with outlines whether it be with paint, markers, or embroidery thread this really caught my eye. Something that will definitely be considered in any samples I create in relation to her work.

Although this piece isn’t done by May herself, I love the delicacy of the florals. The stems stitched are so dainty and pretty. I also love the attention to detail, especially how there is even a border around the piece.

A close up of one of the pieces. 

The exhibition was huge, there was so much to see within the space. It was almost overwhelming how many gorgeous pieces there were! I had to walk around the space a few times.

I was also the youngest one there which I found quite funny.

Looking at May Morris’s pieces had me beginning to wonder how I would take inspiration from them to create my own work.

My one personal project is inspired by mental health and mental illness, and there are no apparent connections to May’s work at first look. As her embroidery work is very inspired by nature around her, and this reminded me of how being in nature is linked to helping your mental health.

So I think my sample that I create inspired by the exhibition will be a sample inspired by the same florals motifs May uses, and done with the purpose of being an art therapy piece. Something I do for my own enjoyment, and own art therapy. It will not have any immediate notions to mental health, but it will be done with the purpose of improving my own mental health. I want to explore more the connections between embroidery and mental health, but I will do this exploration in my paper I submit at the end of the course.

So inspired by the use of florals in May Morris, I set up my own floral still life with flowers leftover from my mom’s Mother’s day arrangement. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photograph of the still life itself, but I do have the initial drawings I created to inspire my embroidery piece!

Quick loose, sketch of a Gerber daisy. 

I never tend to use charcoal when doing sketches, so I opted for this material.

Rubbing charcoal in the background to create texture-reminds me of how May Morris layered stem stitch in certain pieces to create her own filled in background with thread.

Exploring leaves in stems in an abstracted way.

My drawings skills aren’t the strongest in terms of getting my sketches proportional and accurate, so I continued exploring shape and line of the arrangement in a more abstract way. (Which is perfect for stitch! Lines can be done with running, stem, or back stitch; shapes can be filled with satin stitch!)

Ink wash in the background, with ink painted florals and some fine-liner for definition. 

I did one last drawing, incorporating in my favorite material to draw with-markers! I tried to keep my marks made with it light though, as to not make the drawing too stylized.

Practicing my stitches to warm up for my big May Morris piece. Using tonal threads as it was what I had on hand at home, and also because it matched with my previous drawings. I stitched this up in the sunshine of my garden. Ignore the tea stain-I’m a bit clumsy!

A look at the finished piece. It is inspired by the previous abstracted stems and leaves. Long and short stitch is very prevalent in May’s work, so I carried it on to stitch my leaves.

Sewn on cotton linen, with seed stitches, satin stitch, and interlaced running stitch. Keeping it simple with a few stitches as May would have done. I myself prefer a more minimalist look, so I decided to not fill in the the background of the embroidered drawing.

I found the process of this piece very peaceful. I did it in the sun in my garden for some bits, and some watching TV with my parents on the couch. A very therapeutic experience overall.

One thought on “MAY MORRIS EXHIBITION (08/02/2020)

  1. Your drawings are personal and full of energy, do not apologise for them. Its interesting to explore how May Morris drew with her stitching in mind. You have drawn with a very loose material ( charcoal) and chosen tight cottons to stitch with. Have you ever stitched with mohair, slub yarns or hand spun yarns which might replicate the loose charcoal marks?
    Just a couple of wee technical tips here.
    The seeding stitch works particularly well. When working with satin stitch using stranded cotton, unwind the individual strands and then bring them back together to thread them onto your needle. That way they will lie flatter. Also try working with just 4 strands or 3 strand and making smaller stitches closer together.
    For outline stitching try stem stitch or split stitch to get a more flowing and less “stepped” line.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *