A yearly vigil by Freddie Yauner
This year's Morris-anuary continues Freddie's exploration of Morris's works and thinking around environmentalism and social change. New works explore themes outlined in Freddies text Sudden summer and broken patterns written last year, and look at the need for compromise as we adapt to our changed climate, whilst processing being individually compromised as we navigate the world.
Freddie has produced two new prints, Compromise(d) and Sudden summer using his pollen pigment. The new editions are printed on William Morris's original Kelmscott press at the William Morris Society in Hammersmith, Morris's old house, studio and socialist league meeting place.
Parakeet & Bramble 2.0 is a new embroidery edition that digitally adds May Morris's hand and detailed embroidery skills to an original embroidery made during lock-down by the artist, his mother and his two small children. The work unpicks ideas of invasive species and movement of people, whilst blurring lines of technology use by Morris and its potential today.
Vanity screen is Freddie's first furniture work inspired by Morris - a double-sided fire screen for compromised inner-city middle-class woodburning stove owners. Literally ‘framing’ the debate, it is designed in collaboration with a local framer taking all design cues from his work and shop.
Alongside the three main works Freddie has spent the three months of his fourth Morris-anuary; playing with AI models that have been trained on Morris patterns, singing Socialist chants in solidarity with strikers, visiting parliament to meet Caroline Lucas MP, our only Green party MP and leading campaigner and Morris advocate and producing his first Sudden summer merchandise - a hat to protect your head from the raging summers climate change has bought.
Building on the extraordinary success of Dry January, Veganuary, Movember etc - I spend from 1st January to 24/25th March (William and May Morris’s Birthdays) growing my ginger beard and curly hair as part of a yearly vigil. I have always admired and associated with William Morris (or Topsy to his friends). Like him I am an artist, designer and maker, a social entrepreneur and a privileged (and sometimes compromised) socialist. I went to the same school that Morris’s Brothers attended in Walthamstow, attending Chapel under Morris’s stained Glass.
Each spring whilst growing my beard for three months I totally immerse myself in William and May Morris’s life and work - attempting to ‘become’ Morris, making new works which are shared to celebrate the Morris’s Birthdays.
The works I've made look at how art and culture can support environmental and social change through the lens of Morris. They celebrate nature, unpick human progress and explore the cognitive dissonance needed to cope with being alive today. Drawn to make work about Morris after discovering information on the Morris & Co closing down sale, my first performance was cancelled when we entered a first national Lock-down in 2020 the day before. I’ve spent the first quarter of each year since immersed in the extraordinary breadth of their work and intend to do so for many years to come.
“Yet of course Morris came from a wealthy family. He single handedly funded his various fledgling socialist movements. His company may have had workers rights and worker fulfilment at its heart but as a result it made goods that only the rich could access. William Morris was compromised. He knew this - and yet he continued. He did not want to be a master, he truly modelled bottom up politics. He used his knowledge, extraordinary capacity for work and creativity for positive ends.
Perhaps compromise is in fact an approach that we all need to be better at, to be comfortable with. Compromise can bring individuals short term discomfort - but in the long term doesn’t compromise become a form of adaptation? And adaptation is something the world is going to have to do - going to have to be better at. Last month's report from the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC), made clear many climate impacts are now here to stay and adaptation is a very real part of what is needed. So alongside ongoing action to reduce emissions, we also need to imagine new ways to adapt.”
Sudden summer and Broken patterns, 2022,
Essay to accompany installation and performance at William Morris Society