Wild Tulips / by Sasha Ward

Today's tulip drawings and photographs under the mulberry tree behind Kelmscott Manor

Today's tulip drawings and photographs under the mulberry tree behind Kelmscott Manor

When I arrived at Kelmscott last year, I decided that I wasn't going to draw any flowers. I thought it would be inadvisable to start my own work with subject matter so closely linked to that of William Morris. However, I have been regretting the beautiful yellow wild tulips ever since, and am very happy that I managed to get back to see them in flower this year. 

Some of my favourite Morris designs feature the tulip, for example Garden Tulip, below left, one of a series of designs with a meandering line. In Wild Tulip, below right, you can see how closely he observed the shape of the flowers heads with their curled back petals and bobbing heads. Putting them in the background of the design suits their size and habit.

Some typically sensible tips from WM that I will try to remember when introducing tulips into my own pattern work,  "Rational growth is necessary to all patterns, or at least the hint of such growth;…Take heed in this growth that each member of it be strong and crisp, that the lines do not get thready or flabby or too far from their stock to sprout firmly and vigorously; even where a line ends it should look as if it had plenty of capacity for more growth if so it would". From 'Some hints on pattern designing" (1881).

William Morris : GardenTulip                                                                            William Morris : Wild Tulip

William Morris : GardenTulip                                                                            William Morris : Wild Tulip