The William Morris Gallery is owned and run by Waltham Forest Council. The Council’s leader, Cllr Clare Coghill, recently made a statement in support of the Black Lives Matter protests. We endorse that statement and stand in solidarity with all those rejecting racism and social injustice.
Morris himself was a revolutionary, a tireless campaigner against the exploitation of people and the natural world. We have a display dedicated to this important aspect of his life – called Fighting for a Cause – and want Morris’s radical vision to inform everything we do.
We understand that as a museum we have a unique opportunity to reflect and work with the community around us - in our programming, our people and our audiences.- as illustrated by a number of exhibitions, including Social Fabric, an exhibition of textiles from Kenya and Tanzania, and major solo shows by Yinka Shonibare and, most recently, Kehinde Wiley. Our artists in residence have included Lucille Junkere, who explored the complex history of indigo dyeing, and Priya Sundram and Nia Thandapani, who traced the ways in which Morris was inspired by South Asian art and design.
Meanwhile our events programme has recently included talks on Islamic gardens, Morris’s influence on mosque design, Caribbean textile societies and Bauhaus artists in India.
We are aware, however, that there is much more to do.
We understand that action is more important than words. That’s why we are making the following commitments to help us make faster progress towards our diversity goals. Some are existing commitments that we are already working towards – others are being made here for the first time.
- champion BAME artists and designers through headline exhibitions (we have exhibitions planned for 2022 that highlight the contribution of a prominent Black textile designer and the legacy of colonialism)
- provide more public programming drawing links between Morris and international craft movements, particularly in countries which were part of the British empire
- offer free curator-led guided tours for BAME community groups
- advertise employment and volunteering opportunities in BAME media and arts networks
- work with our diverse communities and creative sector to inform and shape the public programme at the William Morris Gallery as part the wider culture and heritage offer