A couple of weeks ago I opened a library book on CFA Voysey and saw THIS WINDOW. An immediate feeling of familiarity flooded me. This interesting, textured, window frame looks exactly like a blanket layout—all staggered and brickwork-like. I felt as though I had stumbled upon kin.
Charles Francis Annesley Voysey was a British architect and designer during the Arts & Crafts Movement. Although I can’t remember the exact trigger that sent me exploring at the library, I know it was one of his wallpaper or textile prints.
What do I love about his work? His drawings, full of motion, come alive on the page. His creatures exude personality. His pastoral colors walk me out the front door to the living world. And all this happens right in my head.
I’ve written previously about my undercurrent of obsession with design from that time period here and here and here. (I once unintentionally posted an uncredited photo of Voysey’s fabric—oops!) Other names you might recognize from Britain were William Morris, Philip Webb, C.R. Ashbee; in the U.S. there was Frank Lloyd Wright, Gustav Stickley, Greene & Greene. But there were many more! Influencers in the movement, in reaction against industrialization and the loss of human touch in the process of making things, advocated beautiful, simple design and craftmanship, generally with natural materials.
Voysey, though, was an independent thinker and something of a loner. He actually did not appreciate being connected to the movement. His background is interesting. He descended (by a couple of centuries) from Samuel and Susanna Wesley who also begat John and Charles Wesley, the brothers (and hymn-writers!) whose ideas led to what became the Methodist church. Voysey’s own dad was a reverend as well, but he broke with key standard doctrine and became an outcast in many circles. Voysey stood by his father. This apparently shaped a lot of his life.
I will leave more history either for another time or for your own research. But I’m delighted here to share some of his works that charm and inspire me.
Magnificent homes and floor plans, in the English countryside, no less:
Wallpaper and fabric designs:
A sweet didactic puzzle-note for his grandchildren. It’s tricky, with his drawings of items we no longer use. His message, though, is appropriate for us all, whatever our age. (Translation below):
“My dear grandchildren, I hope you are busy working at something nice for someone. Service is the safest road to happiness. You will delight in realizing the pleasure you give to others. I would like to know what things you most delight in, and do something that adds to your well being.”
A sketch for an inlaid work-box. I love this! The man appears to be drawing and the woman knitting. To me, the little tree speaks of the organic nature of handwork. And when “head” and “hand” and “heart” meet—well, can we get any closer to Csikszentmihalyi’s flow?!
Finally a whimsical MAP! In watercolor! What is not to love about this?? (See full map below.)
So there you have it: Some visual goodness to wander through.
Who or what inspires you? Please share with the rest of us and leave a comment so we can keep our library cards in action this summer!
4 thoughts on “Windows like blankets: CFA Voysey”
I love this! I’ve been following your blog for several years, and it was your blankets that inspired me! I learned how to felt/full sweaters and made several blankets, including one that depicted a cat on a windowsill looking at the view. Thank you for sharing!
Paula, that means so much. I’m very happy to have been a little part of that journey! I can just imagine the view out that cat’s window, and I’m familiar with the thrill that comes with expressing something like that.
This post is so inspiring! I’ve never heard of this guy, but now you know who I also will be looking up at the local library! The note he wrote to his grandchildren warms my heart. I also can’t get enough of that map! I want a big print of it. In answer to your question, my art lately has been inspired by the beautiful work of painters like Pierre Boncompain, Andy Dixon, Mitchell Johnson, and Spencer Gore.
Hope! You’ve given me trails to explore; an adventure that I love. And I KNOW: that map!!