The Morris Kitsch Archive is an installation created by British artist David Mabb that contains over 720 images, largely drawn from shopping pages on the Internet, of commercially produced domestic objects, including tote bags, clothes, cushions, mugs, sofas, stationery, tea cozies and tools decorated with the textile and wallpaper designs of the extremely well-known and influential nineteenth-century English interior designer, writer, and social activist William Morris. Morris was the founder of the Socialist League and a standard-bearer of Socialism; he maintained a fierce hatred of capitalism and likely would be shocked to see the many money-making projects that his designs have inspired since his death. Today, Morris’ designs have entered the mainstream and become very much a part of the international consumer market. According to Mabb, “The archive illustrates how Morris’ designs have been appropriated for a mass consumer society. The designs have become widely available at the expense of the qualities and values inherent to Morris’ original utopian project, which offered in its vision of the fecundity of nature the hope of alternative ways of living in the world.” The images are individually laminated in A4 sheets and displayed in 12 blocks of 60 images each. This exhibition is offered in connection with an important international symposium, Useful and Beautiful: The Transatlantic Arts of William Morris and the Pre-Raphaelites, taking place October 7-9, 2010, at the University of Delaware (Newark, DE) the Delaware Art Museum, and the Winterthur Museum and Country Estate (Wilmington, DE), and organized with the assistance of the William Morris Society.
Essay on the Morris Kitsch Archive: David Mabb, Notes on the Morris Kitsch Archive, Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture, Volume 7, Number 3, 2009