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“I love art, and I love history, but it is living art and living history that I love”. William Morris

The Arts and Crafts movement of the early 19th century looked back to an idealised medieval past for inspiration and in reaction to what they regarded as the terrible social and aesthetic consequences of the Industrial Revolution.

It was in this spirit that the William Morris commissioned the Red House from his friend and architect Philip Webb in 1859. He dreamed of the house becoming a “Palace of Art”, an idealised escape, an artistic refuge and a family home.

The result was a romanticised medieval manor house with tall chimneys and gothic stained glass windows, a creative haven for Morris to work in collaboration with like minded friends like painters Burnes-Jones and Rossetti who joined in the decoration of the House. Some of the Burne-Jones wall murals survive

It was while living at the Red House that Morris co-founded Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co, a company inspired by ideas of reforming attitudes to production and re-establishing manual craftsmanship. It was also there that he began work on his earliest wallpaper designs.

Ironically, it was the very mass production processes against which he fought that were to be the source of his success. Much of Morris’s life and career was spent reconciling these apparently conflicting principles.

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Belief in the value of traditional skills and the artisanal process is central to the concept of HIGH. As in the work of Morris, there is a balance to be maintained between the consistency and precision of mechanised manufacture and the artistry and individuality of handcraft.

Achieving that equilibrium is an art in itself.

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