‘Only there is Life’ is Kelmscott Manor’s 2018 exhibition (opening 23 June). It centres on the Society of Antiquaries’ recent acquisition of paintings and drawings by the artists Edward and Stephani Scott-Snell, created during the period they were living at the Manor as self-described ‘guardians of the most beautiful house in the world’.
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 canvas – 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 1948), 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, and will be 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 included with a purchase of a ticket to the Manor.
Open on Wednesdays and Saturdays through 31 October. Suitable for Any age...
‘Only there is Life’ is Kelmscott Manor’s 2018 exhibition (opening 23 June). It...
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