Mrs Stirling was born in 1865 and during her near hundred year life span she saw many changes; politically, socially, and artistically. Sir John Betjeman (writer, journalist and founding member of the Victorian Society) described her as reminiscent of Miss Haversham in Charles Dicken’s Great Expecations¸ sitting in her faded pile, surrounded by the objects of a past life. However, this isn’t the image of Mrs Stirling which I have come to know and love over my ten years as Curator here at the De Morgan Centre.
Today is St George’s Day, and we’re busy installing our next exhibition, Hidden Heritage: Mrs Stirling, Old Battersea House and the De Morgan Collection. One of the key exhibits in the exhibition is this rather wonderful decorated cabinet:
From time to time, repeat visitors to the gallery will wander in, take a long look around and declare, ‘Something is different!’. Those with a keen eye will notice that every so often we move around the ceramics, rearranging them in the cases to give a fresh view, to highlight particular themes in the decoration, or to swap objects around so we can display different ceramics from our stores.
On a bleak winter’s day in January 1917, William De Morgan’s funeral service was held at Chelsea Old Church. A marble plaque honouring the much loved ceramicist and novelist was later unveiled there by May Morris. However, De Morgan’s final resting place is in fact at Brookwood Cemetery, Woking.
On the weekend of the 22nd-23rd September, the De Morgan Centre offered free entry as part of 2012’s Open House London weekend, a city-wide initiative that aims to grant the public access to buildings of architectural interest and get people exploring parts of London that they wouldn’t normally see.
John Roddam Spencer-Stanhope (1829-1908), uncle of Evelyn de Morgan, was a pre-Raphaelite and symbolist painter. He was one of the group of artists which worked on the Oxford Union murals, and went on to have a quietly distinguished career as a professional artist despite his professional being at odds with his class and status as the second son of son of a wealthy family of landed gentry.
Cemeteries are often beautiful, peaceful places, perfectly suited to contemplative remembrance. 40 minutes away from Central London by train, nestled in the idyllic Surrey countryside, is a rambling cemetery with a fascinating and unique past.
Today marks the 100th anniversary of Bram Stoker’s death.
Any museum professional worth their salt can tell you that feedback from visitors is absolutely essential to the development of a worthwhile, enjoyable gallery. At the De Morgan Centre we keep a comment book at reception and visitors are always encouraged to write a note to let us know what we're doing right and what they particularly enjoyed. It also gives them an opportunity to let us know if anything didn't meet their expectations, so that we can aim to improve.
As beautiful as the paintings and ceramics in our gallery are, there are just as many fascinating objects and documents in our archive at the De Morgan Centre. It’s a real treat to come across a note or letter that reveals some of the character of the person behind the art.
We have been lucky enough to acquire a fascinating lot at a recent Bonhams sale: a bundle of letters to Marillier, Managing Director of Morris & Co. and owner of Kelmscott House, written by none other than William De Morgan.