MA Narrative Environments

Festival of Joy with the William Morris Gallery.

The home of William Morris is now a gallery, nestled in parkland in Walthamstow, East London. 

Morris was the iconic leader of the nineteenth-century British Arts and Crafts movement. The Gallery tells the story of his life as designer, poet and activist. 

Like museums across the world COVID-19 has restricted access to the William Morris Gallery because it had to reduce visitor numbers to ensure safe social distancing. It also had to close completely for periods of time over the last year.  

Whilst the Gallery is rich in history and culture, Walthamstow High Street nearby, like many local high streets in the UK, has fallen into decline in recent years, as people choose to shop at mega stores or online. 

The team of Narrative Environments students were tasked with creating a strategy that would manifest Morris’ teachings and revolutionary ideologies in the High Street to help revitalise it and, in doing so, increase local interest and use of the Gallery.  

image: Walthamstow highstreet with a shopfront covered in William Morris wallpaper

The students created a proposition for a ‘cultural corridor’ connecting the Gallery and High Street that took the form of a ‘Festival of Joy.’ The festival concept builds on pre-existing community initiatives and involves strategic alliances with community craftspeople. 

The students envisioned craft workshops taking place in the empty shops, reactivating disused spaces in the High Street with activities, displays and installations that would spill out onto the street. They envisaged the programme would culminate in a parade from the High Street to the Gallery.  

image: a shopfront, posters and signs advertising the ‘Festival of Joy’.

The vibrant visual branding is inspired by the joy of making, sharing, togetherness for a better future. 

MA Narrative Environments Student Design Team: Jessica Barter, Haruka Katsuyama, Lilly Marshall, Lucy McCullough, Jasmine Ouyang, Genea Saunders, Muyun Zhang.