24 November 2011

Arts and crafts (and a beautiful building in the middle of London)

It's been a busy week for our little team at work. So when the boss suggested a couple of us visited a 'house' down the road that had just opened to the public, we jumped at the chance to have a proper lunch break and a wander outside.
Two Temple Place
Two Temple Place has been in private ownership for over 100 years, and has just recently been opened to the public, along with an exhibition of publically owned art from across the country - starting with William Morris: Story, Memory, Myth.

The works of art have been loaned from the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, which is currently undergoing £5m renovation. There's wallpaper, tiles, stained glass, and a lot of tapestry - massive panels of hand stitched embroidery, made by the ladies of the house (not 2 Temple Place, another house, and I can't remember their names, other than the daughter was called Florence). They're amazing, large swathes of loveliness. The tones of the threads used and the direction of the stitches creates an amazing effect. It took everything I had not to reach out and touch them. And the wallpaper... wow! It never fails to astound me how those patterns are created. There are examples of finished rolls, but also works in progress and planned works, showing the intricate details of the initial designs.

The building itself is beautiful enough for a visit, even without the William Morris exhibition. Built for William Waldorf Astor (of Waldorf Hotel fame) in 1895, it's been through various private owners since then and has only been opened up to the public for the past month. There's a little information in one of the rooms about the history of the building, including bomb damage in 1944 (since restored). It's a good fit with the theme of the William Morris exhibition. There's lots of friezes, carvings and statues of characters from fiction, including Shakespearean characters, and the Three Musketeers (this inevitably led to a hushed chorus of 'da-da-da da-da-da', as we thought about Dogtanian).

No photos were allowed, but more information is available on their website. And it's free to get in, so pop round when you're next in the area! Definitely a good way to spend a lunchtime.

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