Artists Textiles

The Fashion & Textile Museum in Bermondsey holds the most wonderful courses, workshops, talks and exhibitions throughout the year and is well worth keeping on your radar.  The Artists Textiles exhibition is no exception and has been running since January – it closes on 18 May, so don’t miss it.

I was attracted to this exhibition as I had seen they were showcasing a lovely collection of scarves, which is one of my passions, and as I’ve been collecting vintage textiles and haberdashery for over 15 years had a great interest in seeing the textiles.  I was hoping I might find something that I had in my collection and hadn’t realised the significance .. sadly I was out of luck on that one! I was really surprised to find so many notable artists were commissioned to design a textile. The exhibition traces the history of 20th century art in textiles and shows how even if you couldn’t afford to hang the ‘picture’ you could at least have some modern art in your home furnishings or clothing. Many of the pieces are very rare and are on show for the first time.

Here’s a few of the delights that await you at the exhibition.

Marcel Vertes silk headscarves – Left: Vegetable Patch (1944) Right: Pennies from Heaven (1946)
Salvador Dali - Ballerina
Salvador Dali – Ballerina – screen-printed silk headscarf (1946-47) Wesley Simpson Custom Fabrics Inc, New York

Artists like Alistair Morton and Graham Sutherland were commissioned to supply textile designs to Horrockses. They also employed the couturier John Tullis (who was previously an assistant to couturier Edward Molyneux) as one of their first fashion designers. A highlight was when Tullis designed a collection of dresses for the Queen’s coronation tour.  Horrockses dresses were extremely popular and very affordable.

Horrockses fashions
Horrockses Fashions 1940s-1950s
Horrockses cotton dresses
Left to Right Screen printed cotton ‘Rose’ – Graham Sutherland (1949) Screen printed fashion textile Alistair Morton (1949) and Eduardo Paolozzi – (1953) textile – dress designed by John Tullis
Philippe Jullian for Ascher 1948
Philippe Jullian – Screen printed cotton – Ascher Ltd 1948
Rhodes and Picasso prints
Left to Right – Zandra Rhodes ‘Lipstick’ (1967-68) Pablo Picasso ‘Notes’ (1955)

These were some of my favourite textiles at the exhibition – I am very partial to flower fabrics… Look at this gorgeous ‘Belle Fleurs’ by Marc Chagall a screen-printed cotton and rayon furnishing textile (1956) I would adore to have a chair covered in this.

Marc Chagall Belle Fleurs

In 1963 Picasso agreed to design for Bloomcraft Fabrics and created 11 furnishing fabrics. You could buy it for about $5.00 a yard which is amazing. Oh to have bought some of those! The fabric on the left below, of the lady on the horse, was derived from a series of paintings and drawings Picasso made of his second wife Jacqueline Roque.

Picasso Carnet 11 and John Piper Chiesa De La Salute
Left to Right – Picasso ‘Carnet II’ (1963) John Piper ‘Chiesa De la Salute’

Here are another couple of great fabrics – love the ‘gossips’

Virginia Lee Burton Gossips and Saul Steinberg Paddington Station
Top row – Virginia Lee Burton ‘Demetrios’ – Gossips (1943) Bottom row – Saul Steinberg – Paddington Station (1952)
Swatch book
A swatch page from ‘American Fabrics’

There is also an accompanying book to the exhibition available at the museum.

Fashion & Textile Museum Open Tuesdays to Saturdays, 11am–6pm
Thursdays until 8pm
Sundays, 11am–5pm
Last admission 45 minutes before closing
Closed Mondays
83 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3XF
T: 020 7407 8664

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *