The Beautifullest Place On Earth

I love art, and I love history, but it is living art and living history that I love...
William Morris

William Morris and his collaborators built the Red House to establish alternative ways of working and living collaboratively, incorporating motifs from medieval society. When it was completed in 1860, it was described by Edward Burne-Jones as 'the beautifullest place on earth'. Morris described his 1882 reading of Marx as an epiphany, whereby his ideas of medieval organisation that were first explored at Red House were placed in an economic and philosophical framework. The historical, political and philosophical contexts of art making, the possibilities of utopia, a concern for the primacy of sensory knowledge, the trauma created by mass industrial systems and the recuperative potential of art and technology continue to preoccupy contemporary artists today.

In a unique collaboration between the Slade School of Fine Art and National Trust at Red House, there was a commitment to challenge a tendency in heritage to make representations or reconstructions that appease our sense of the past, but instead to offer access to Red House to catalyse possibilities in the present in an active approach to historicity.

The Beautifullest Place On Earth provided an opportunity for artists and writers to engage with Morris’ home and studio, it’s staff and it’s public, in a way that is generative, interrogative and open-ended. Through a series of short residencies and through unprecedented open access, this historically significant site was made available for artists to research, speculate and produce new works. The project also provided access for workers and volunteers in the house, and the visiting public to engage with some of the living practices of contemporary art, its processes, production, even it’s ‘disruptive energies’ as it tackles many of the ongoing concerns that Morris himself engaged with, in the contemporary moment.

The Beautifullest Place on Earth: Muckle Mouth #2 was held at the The Horse Hospital, Bloomsbury 3rd February 2015
A programme of live music, screenings, talks and a publication drawing lines between folk and experimental artistic practice. As part of the programme, artists from The Beautifullest Place on Earth presented performance, film, text and sculpture. Please see Artists Pages for details.

The Beautifullest Place On Earth was made possible with a grant from Share Academy.

Share Academy is an Arts Council England funded programme that is helping develop and foster relationships between London's specialist museums and academics at UCL and the University of the Arts London.