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Designing Women: Post-war British textiles

1 December 2011

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For immediate release

Britain was at the forefront of international textile design in the 1950s and 1960s. Three women – Lucienne Day, Jacqueline Groag and Marian Mahler – led this movement. ‘Designing Women’, the forthcoming exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum, explores these women’s pioneering role in combining art and manufacturing to change the direction of the modern design industry.

The art of textile design radically changed after the Second World War and three women artists working in England in the 1950s were pivotal in this artistic revolution.

The drab days of the War were transformed by the fresh, progressive designs of Lucienne Day (1917–2010), Jacqueline Groag (1903–86) and Marian Mahler (1911– 83). Designing Women: Post-war British textiles showcases their work beginning with Lucienne Day’s ‘Calyx’ pattern of 1951, featured at the Festival of Britain, and moving through textile commissions of the 1960s and 70s. The exhibition features more than 100 works.

Original artist designs with bold abstract pattern, as well as the use of saturated colour, marked a dramatic departure from conventional furnishing fabrics. This new wave of bold textile designs, helped to bring the influences of the art world, in its most recent, refreshing, and largely abstract forms, into the contemporary home.

Progressive textile manufacturers and wholesale firms like Heal & Sons and David Whitehead Ltd were central in maintaining Britain’s preeminent position in textile design. The introduction of new technologies and the work of inventive and creative young designers like Day, Groag and Mahler helped these companies transform the market by inspiring new product lines that were elegant and artistic, yet affordable.

The mid-century pursuit of fresh and provocative designs is reflected in the work of other women designers who produced popular textiles of the period. The work of Paule Vézelay, Mary Warren and Mary White is also included in the exhibition. Together they present a uniquely British brand of modernism whose broad appeal is still relevant to contemporary domestic interiors today.

Celia Joicey, Head of Fashion and Textile Museum, says ‘We are very excited to be showing the work of Lucienne Day, Marian Mahler and Jacqueline Groag at the Fashion and Textile Museum. Their outstanding designs highlight the important contribution these women have made to introducing art and modernity into British lives and homes.’

Shanna Shelby, Exhibition Guest Curator, says ‘The distinct and innovate style of works created by these women is still relevant to contemporary domestic interiors.’

Dennis Nothdruft, Curator, says ‘The mid-century textiles collection of Jill A. Wiltse and H. Kirk Brown is one of the most comprehensive in the world. This exhibition will provide a rare opportunity to see these works and compare key developments in pattern, colour and form from this period.’

Notes to Editors:
The exhibition is organised by the Fashion and Textile Museum with over 100 works from the collection of Jill A. Wiltse and H. Kirk Brown from 16th March – 16th June 2012.

Exhibition opening times: Tuesday–Saturday, 11am–6pm; Last admission 5.15pm.

Ticket prices: £7 adults, £5 students and concessions, free entry for under 12s.

The publication Designing Women of Postwar Britain by Shanna Shelby and Tariana Navas-Nieves (paperback) will be available in the exhibition shop.

The Fashion and Textile Museum is a cutting edge centre for contemporary fashion, textiles and jewellery in London. Founded by iconic British designer Zandra Rhodes, the museum is owned by Newham College London – one of Europe’s largest further education colleges – and showcases a programme of changing exhibitions, courses and events. The Fashion and Textile Museum, 83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF. For further information about FTM and its activities visit www.ftmlondon.org

For further press information please contact: Alison Lowe, Press Officer, Felicities Ltd representing FTM, Tel: 0207 377 6030, Email: Alison@felicities.co.uk

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