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Exhibition: Only There Is LIfe
A special exhibition of paintings, drawings and writings by the artists Edward and Stephani Scott-Snell, created during the period they lived at Kelmscott Manor as "guardians of the most beautiful house in the world".
3rd April - 31 August 2019
William Morris, the great 19th-century designer-craftsman, social activist and writer first saw Kelmscott Manor in 1871. He promptly took on the lease and the 67-year association of the Morris family with Kelmscott began. Morris found the Manor's melancholy beauty stimulating to the imagination, and a constant source of inspiration.
The Scott-Snells were the first tenants to occupy Kelmscott Manor following May Morris's death in 1938, remaining there for eight intense years. They, in their turn, responded to Kelmscott's many qualities of atmosphere and age, and so added to the Manor's continuing creative legacy.
Working closely together – often on the same painting – they executed a significant volume of work, much of which was made in direct response to the house and its setting. Several of these pieces will be on display in the exhibition, alongside other works representing Thessyros, the erotically-charged imaginary world central to the pair's creative output.
Both Edward and Stephani were devotees of William Morris, and toured local schools giving lectures about him hoping to enthuse the coming generation, as well as create much-needed income. Their abiding admiration for William Morris was expressed in the book they co-authored, entitled Warrior Bard (published in 1947), a biography of their hero.
Whilst living as far from the maelstrom of the Second World War as they could get, Edward and Stephanie penned many observations about the remote Manor and its gardens in the form of diary entries and correspondence – describing the Manor as the most enchanted place on earth! Their writings reveal glimpses into how the house both looked and functioned during the 1940s, are used in the exhibition's interpretation.
The exhibition is co-curated by Dr Kathy Haslam (Heritage Manager at Kelmscott Manor) and Joscelyn Godwin Hon FSA, Edward and Stephani's younger son. Professor Godwin recently edited The Starlight Years: Love and War at Kelmscott Manor (2015), constructed from selected letters and diary entries by Edward and Stephani, and illustrated by several of the paintings and drawings now in the Manor's collection.
Admission is included with a purchase of a ticket to the Manor house.