The First Eco-Warrior of Design

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the designs of William Morris – his trellises and willows and honeysuckles – are a little out-of-date and irrelevant. Popular designs like Strawberry Thief adorn cushions and mugs, but do they really fit the modern interior? Surprisingly, not only have these botanical themes made a massive comeback, but Morris himself has been enjoying a new wave of popularity – as an environmental prophet and anarchist.

Jeremy Deller’s installation at the Venice biennale depicts William Morris throwing a superyacht into the lagoon

Jeremy Deller’s installation at the Venice biennale depicts William Morris throwing a superyacht into the lagoon (Credit: Getty Images)

At the Venice Biennale in 2013, a mural portrayed him throwing Abramovich’s superyacht Luna into the lagoon – symbolising Morris’s outrage at capitalism. The artwork by Jeremy Deller, We Sit Starving Amidst Our Gold, was interpreted as a critique not only of the yacht – which earlier had been docked so that it blocked the view of the lagoon – but also of the crass commercialisation of art.

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