Rob Ryan

An Exhibition Of New Work At The William Morris Gallery, London

Posted by on Monday 22nd October, 2018

Earlier this year the William Morris Gallery invited Rob to create a body of work in response to Morris’s legacy.

William Morris was a designer, craftsmen, writer and socialist, famously known for his intricate decorative floral patterns. The William Morris Gallery is housed in a 1740s Georgian house in Lloyd Park, Walthamstow. The building was used by the Morris’ as their family home between 1848 and 1856, and is now the only public gallery devoted to William Morris’ work.

After opening in 1950, the gallery has recently undergone major redevelopment during 2011-2012. The historic house was fully refurbished, with new permanent collection displays created on the first and ground floors. The top floor of the house is now a research centre, and a new wing was created containing a tea room and brand new special exhibition gallery.

“Let Me In” Handcut paper, 2018. Reads: “A million keys to a million doors in this city but I’m still locked out, give me a key and let me in. I only need one.”

Rob worked to create a collection of intricate and delicately patterned original papercuts and limited edition screen prints. He was drawn to Morris’ politics, “I like to write as well as draw and I see my work as messages as much as I see them as pictures. I like the words that Morris wrote, he was passionate, you can see this as much in the designs his company produced as in the messages he wrote in his essays.”

Morris’s use of decoration also resonated, “I have always liked decoration, especially the type whose pattern is symmetrical and ordered. You can see in my work that I could never be a minimalist. For me, space is there is to be filled.”

‘If You Believe In Freedom’ Screenprint, 2018. Reads: “If you believe in freedom then you must want freedom for everybody, and if you believe in equality then you must want everybody to be equal!”

“Fight For the Life of Your Art” Screenprint with hand cut details, 2018.

‘I’m Not Fake’ Screenprint

We are excited to be able to show you a sneak peak at the process behind creating some of the works below.

Cutting ‘If You Believe In Freedom’ papercut. We begin by cutting out the smallest parts of the design, which will often be the middles of flowers or any holes in the lettering.

Testing ideas for plate designs. Rob used elements from both papercuts created for the show to design two limited edition ceramic dinner plates.

Cutting the largest papercut for the exhibition. Due to it’s size, Rob began by scanning the original print artwork and printing it onto lots of A3 sheets of paper, which we stuck together in long strips.

We then got to work cutting each strip, helped by the brilliant Michele. Rob then stuck each strip together to create the full image before spraying it black.

Because of it’s size, the papercut needed to have some sort of backing to support it whilst it hangs. We used two sheets of True-Grain film to back it.

The papercut fits perfectly into the Georgian panel which Rob designed it to fit within, you can see this in situ and the other works in the Gallery space below.

Image credit : Nicola Tree

In accompaniment to the exhibition, Rob has designed and produced a range of products which will be exclusively available to purchase via the gallery shop. The collection was designed, screen printed and decaled by hand in our East London studio, and includes ceramic plates, glassware and a limited edition laser cut – with more products being added throughout the entirety of the exhibition!

“If You Believe In Freedom” Ceramic plate, 2018. Reads: “If you believe in freedom then you must want freedom for everybody and if you believe in equality then you must want everybody to be equal!”


“Every Minute” Champagne glass, 2018. Reads: “Every minute, hour, day and all of the years of my life have led me to this moment with you!”

We hope that you will find the time to visit the exhibition, you can find the products and prints available to buy in the Gallery Shop and online.

Rob Ryan at William Morris Gallery
Lloyd Park, Forest Road, London E17 4PP.

Saturday 20th October 2018 – Sunday 27th January 2019
Open Tuesday – Sunday, 10am-5pm. Free entry.

For full details including accessibility to the gallery, see here.

Daisy Shayler
Studio Assistant