Commemorating Jane Morris’ birthday, as she was born on 19 October 1839, I superimposed a colour portrait of me, taken by Liselotte Fleur for the editorial about my work in Lone Wolf magazine, on top of a black and white photo of Jane Morris.
Doublechecking the date I suddenly realised there was another photograph of Jane Morris from the same series.
I might have always overlooked the image on the left as I was so smitten by the image on the left, in which Jane sits upright, full of self confience. Don’t you agree how this slight tilt of the head so drastically influences the way we perceive Jane?
The concept of the current travelling exhibition (now at the William Morris Gallery until 4-1-2015) is perfectly in line with my own exhibition ‘A Memory Palace of Her Own’. Opposite to the room I occupied a few months earlier yet another room is filled with ‘images of Jane as herself’. Photographs, drawings and paintings are juxtaposed with Jane’s embroidery and handwriting. The exhibition offers insight in the relation between Jane as herself and Jane as a muse.
The exhibition illustrates that Jane Morris was multitalented, more than a pretty face. During the opening speech Jan Marsh surprised the William Morris Gallery by donating, on behalf of Frank Sharp, a book with a cover designed by Jane Morris. Photographer India-Roper Evans took photographs of the exhibition and noticed me while I was admiring the recently acquired Honeysuckle, designed by William Morris and embroideried by Jane and Jenny Morris.
After the private view of the exhibition Kirsty Walker accompanied me to visit Kelmscott Manor. They currently exhibit the Centenary Exhibition; photographs that were exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery earlier this year. At Jane Morris’ grave I have paid my homage to Jane even though she lives on in my mind… You can read Kirsty’s review of our trip here.
A few days before John Robert Parsons photographed her, Rossetti wrote in a letter to Jane Morris: ‘…The photographer is coming at eleven on Wednesday. So I’ll expect you as early as you can manage…’.
I had always assumed that the photographs had been taken in the course of a single day. However, while reading Jan Marsh’s catalogue for the exhibition ‘Rossetti’s Obsession: Images of Jane Morris’, I became intrigued by the following paragraph: ‘In autumn 1865 the Morrises moved to Queen Square, central London; earlier in the year they had spent a few days at Tudor House, where Rossetti organised a photo shoot, with Jane taking various poses to use as studies for future compositions…’
Eager to find out how to divide the series of photographs into separate shoots, I disregarded the order used in ‘Album of Portraits of Mrs. William Morris (Jane Burden) Posed by Rossetti, 1865’. Instead, I rearranged the photographs in what I myself surmise is the actual sequence in which Parsons took these photographs. I leave it to you to decide how the photographs should be distributed over the several sessions, if at all…
The narrative and voice are from an off-the-cuff recording for my exhibition at the William Morris Gallery. If you want to buy the cd or simply leave a comment please go to the contact page!
Photographs from my series ‘A Memory Palace of Her Own’ are exhibited at the William Morris Gallery from 11 January to 9 March 2014. The private view was held on 9 January and included a Q&A with the author Kirsty Walker who wrote this review.
Excerpt from an email I received from the curator of the William Morris Gallery, Carien Kremer: ‘We would like to offer you a slot in our 2014 programme, showing the photographs in the Discovery Lounge…It would be great to mark the commemorative year with a contemporary take on Jane’.
What are you proposing to display?
A series of four self-portraits. I visited several of Rossetti, Jane and William Morris’ former homes and took staged photos on location with the photographer Hein van Liempd. Referring to Jane Morris’ life story I transformed her world into my own, adopting contemporary clothing and poses.
How is your work relevant to the William Morris Gallery?
The William Morris Gallery is one of William Morris’ two former homes included in my series ‘A Memory Palace of Her Own’. The other, Red House, was designed exclusively by William Morris and Philip Webb, who collaborated in the design of the ‘Green Dining Room’ which is also shown in my series.
Are there parallels with the collection?
I took photos at Rossetti’s studio, as this is the location of the famous photo series of Jane Morris which was the incentive for my own project. In the archives of the William Morris Gallery I have studied the reproductions of this series. There, I also enjoyed the privilege of reading Jane’s letters. I have incorporated her handwriting in my photo of the Red House.
Why is it of interest to our visitors?
In the course of my trips to London and Oxford I have seen many inspiring works of art and artefacts from various museums, archives and from one depot. In my work, I often refer to these objects or quote from the many works on the Pre-Raphaelites. As an artist, it is my hope that my personal viewpoint will supplement the existing works of art and artefacts in the William Morris Gallery to contribute to Jane and William Morris and Rossetti’s cultural heritage.