Morris: A Ghost for Today Symposium

  • 5 October 2019
  • 10:00 - 13:00
  • Free admission. Please book in advance for this event. Tickets are available via Eventbrite


    The event is open to all, although we are restricted to a maximum of 40 people. 


This symposium brings together 5 contemporary, London based artists to address the enduring relevance of William Morris and to examine why he matters today, in these times of ecological and political instability. What can we learn from returning to Morris and his preoccupations with time past, present and future that may benefit us in an age of technological acceleration? 

Our contemporary times are marked by a preoccupation with how we can define the temporality in which we live. In the unpacking of the contemporary condition, recent critical discourse has placed an emphasis upon the nature of contemporaneity as a-temporal and anachronistic; being out of time, rather than with the time. Why do we place such significance and hierarchy upon the past when we live in the present? (Groys, 2016).

The artists speaking in this event will present their ideas, many of which echo current and urgent concerns regarding sustainability, labour and deskilling, and notions of temporal shifting. These ideas were addressed by Morris himself, in his designs, writing and lectures 150 years ago under titles such as, ‘How we Live and how we might live’, ‘Signs of Change’, and ‘A Factory as it Might Be’; questions which resonate with those being asked today. The interchanging temporalities within ‘News from Nowhere’ illustrate Morris’s anachronistic character and preoccupation with the past in the hope for a more sustainable, utopian future. In an age in which the distinctions between temporalities and media are becoming increasingly merged, this is an interesting point from which to re-consider Morris, in how we live and how we might live.

This symposium has been organised by Diana Taylor, artist and PhD researcher working in collaboration with the William Morris Gallery, at Sheffield Hallam University. She lives and works in London and has invited fellow artists to discuss their individual interests in Morris. Taylor’s preoccupation with anachronism and temporal constructs is explored through the merging of traditional crafts with mechanical and digital processes. This collapsing of hierarchies is key to Taylor’s research as to why Morris is a valuable ‘ghost’ for today.

Participating artist speakers:

Ben Deakin graduated from Chelsea College of Art and Design, 2006; MFA: Painting. Recent exhibitions include: Contemporary British Painting Prize, 2018, Huddersfield Art Gallery; Subsumed, St Marylebone Crypt, London; Defining Structure, The Cello Factory, London. Seeking News From Nowhere, The Concept Space, London, 2018. He was recently artist in residence at PADA studios, Lisbon, 2018. Deakin has an upcoming solo show at the William Morris Society, Hammersmith, London, opening in November.

Clare Mitten graduated from the RCA, 2006; MA: Painting. Between Apr – May 2017 she presented ‘PLANTWORKS: A Factory As It Might Be’, a solo intervention at William Morris Gallery, Funded by Arts Council England. Recent group shows include Backyard Sculpture at Domo Baal,(2019), The Immaculate Dream at Collyer Bristow Gallery, 2019 and The Machine Stops, Danielle Arnaud Gallery, 2018. She was awarded the Bow Arts award in 2016.

Nicholas Pankhurst graduated from the RCA, 2011; MA: Painting. He is the current Artist in Residence at the William Morris Gallery. His installation will be part of the exhibition William Morris and the Bauhaus exhibition, opening on 19th October. Recent exhibitions include It’s always the Others who die, Koppel Project, London, 2016. Pankhurst was winner of the Valerie Beston Artists’ Trust award in 2011.

Eva Sajovic graduated from University of the Arts, 2018; MA Academic Practice in Art & Design. She is currently exhibiting at Bauhaus: Utopia in Crisis at Camberwell Space, Camberwell College of Arts, during which she staged a performance, Imagining Dystopia: How might we live?. Sajovic curated All Rise for the Planet, a 2 day event on climate justice as part of Tate Exchange/Tate Modern, July 2019. She is Associate Lecturer at UAL’s Central Saint Martins and Theory Lecturer at Chelsea College of Art. In 2015 she became Tate Exchange Associate with the People’s Bureau Project.

Diana Taylor graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art, 2010; MFA: Painting. She is currently a practice based PhD researcher at Sheffield Hallam University, working in collaboration with the William Morris Gallery. Recent shows include Can we Hold on?(solo), Centre of Contemporary Art, Mallorca, 2018-9, ‘A Strange Weave of Time and Space, SITE Gallery Project Space, 2019, ‘Attempts to Escape’, Artseen Contemporary, Cyprus, 2019 and Re-assemble, Collyer Bristow Gallery, 2019.