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Archive Study – Interview with Enid Marx by Oliver Green in 1980 from London Transport Museum

 

 

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I’ve just been listening to the most lovely interview with Enid Marx from the 1980s with Oliver Green from the London Transport Museum’s archive. I’ve linked it to the image above, Marx’s moquette design ‘Brent’. It gives a lot of information about how she was commissioned to work for London Transport and the criteria for creating the moquette designs.

Marx was commissioned, along with Marion Dorn and Paul Nash, to come up with designs for the moquette material which would be used to upholster bus and tube train seats for London Transport. Frank Pick, managing director at the time and founder of the Design and Industries Association, brought in a house style for London Transport which included a redesign of all posters, tickets, maps, moquette fabrics, station interiors and architecture. It is now an iconic style and featured the work of many prominent artists and designers from the period.

In this interview Marx talks about the issues she had working with the moquette manufacturers who, anxious about divulging too much information to their competition about the capabilities of their machinery, were vague about the repeat sizes and proportions of the looms they employed. Therefore Marx was shocked to find a square design returned as an oblong because the loom could not produce squares. As a rigorous designer she challenged the samples and attempted to ensure that the finished fabric looked like the design she’d come up with.

Marx also talks about colour choices and the considerations she had to make about tonal contrasts to ensure that the fabric stood up to wear and tear and that the pattern was still visible under the dirt and grime. Its a great interview and a real insight into a design process. Link beneath or click on the image above.

 

https://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/collections/collections-online/sound-recordings/item/2016-679?&apiurl=aHR0cHM6Ly9hcGkubHRtdXNldW0uY28udWsvYWxsP3Nob3J0PTEmc2tpcD0wJmxpbWl0PTQ4JnE9bW9xdWV0dGU=&searchpage=Y29sbGVjdGlvbnMvY29sbGVjdGlvbnMtb25saW5lL3RoZS1jb2xsZWN0aW9uL3BhZ2UvMT8mcT1tb3F1ZXR0ZQ==

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Archive Visit – Transport for London Interwar Moquettes

Transport for London have the most wonderful depot in Acton which you reach up a long winding private road. You are greeted by a minature train track and tube station in front of a big industrial warehouse type building. When I visited as a Masters Student back in 2009 the reception had a chunky sofa upholstered in the yellow, orange and brown block design I remember sitting on in buses in the 1980s but that appears to have gone now. Perhaps to the Transport Museum, who knows.

I’d contacted the archive to see a few of the moquette fabrics they hold from Frank Pick’s era. Frank Pick, part of the ‘good design’ movement in the Interwar period, championed the use of design in London Transport from posters, architecture to fabrics, essentially coming up with what we’d now call branding. Frank Pick was known to love green, and I wonder if he was behind the colour choices of green and red that feature strongly in the designs I saw. I particularly wanted to see the moquettes by Paul Nash, Enid Marx and Marion Dorn.

Moquette is a thick cut and loop pile weave. It is still used today on transport fabrics because it is so hard wearing. It has to last, not show the dirt and look smart all in one. The designs from Frank Pick’s era continue the geometric style, fashionable at the time.

Archive visit – Eileen Hunter at The Clothworkers Study Centre, Victoria and Albert Museum, Blythe House London

 

Eileen Hunter set up Eileen Hunter Textiles in the 1930s. Her bold colourful designs were printed by Footprints in Hammersmith, a small block printing studio, and Warners, a larger textile manufacturer based out in Dartford. 

She was inspired by Leon Bakst, William Morris and William De Morgan, whose curves and shapes you can see in her design work. Hunter was far more abstract, with a wish to bring colour into her textiles, fearing that much of 1930s design was very neutral with dull textures.

The Clothworker’s Study Centre, part of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s archive at Blythe House, have several of her fabric designs including a large swatch book which I presume she must have donated. Sadly the swatch book was unavailable when I went to visit but the wonderful team there were able to get out several of her fabric repeats. The colours are amazing! Teaming up bright apple greens with dirty pinks, sunshine yellow with splashes of red and lime and a rather sublime purple, red and yellow design which, if I understand correctly from the transcript of a talk she gave in the 1970s should have been marine blue, red and yellow but the printers got it wrong. Its great in purple but wow wee those are strong colours.

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Warner’s printed her fabrics because, as a vivacious, ambitious woman, she had approached them in a bid to get them to commission her to design fashion fabrics for the company. Warners produced woven and printed interior fabrics and were not keen on the idea but were charmed by Hunter and the formidable Mr Pithers, Warner’s manager, had a good working relationship with her. It is not clear whether Warner’s printed fabrics for anyone else. Certainly Hester Bury, speaking at the same lecture series in the 1970s as Hunter, as the Warner’s archivist only mentioned Hunter’s fabrics as the only additional fabrics to be printed there.

 

Blythe House is a fantastic place to visit in its own rights. Its boxed off for various archives and the post office seems to occupy other parts of it. Last I’d heard it was to be sold with a brand new building being commissioned to house the various collections which I’m sure will be up to date and be a better warehouse for what must be some rather precious and precarious objects, documents and all sorts. But I’m sure it won’t feel as sacred to visit.

 

 

Dissemination – Textiles & Life, Textile Institute Student Conference, Manchester 22nd November 2017

I will be presenting at the Textile Institute Student Conference in Manchester on 22nd November. My poster presentation, The development of methodologies for digital colour printing in textile design, looks at the emerging themes from a number of interviews I’ve been conducting with designers and SMEs who are engaging with digital textile printing.

The cost of attending has been being funded through the WD Wright award from the Colour Group of Great Britain. Thank you for your support The Colour Group GB!

171119 Becky Gooby Poster Presentation for Textiles and Life Conference.jpg

Practitioner – Le Corbusier

Charles-Edouard Jeanneret was known as Le Corbusier. A Swiss-French national, Le Corbusier became famous for his modern approach to architecture, designing buildings and spaces across the world using new materials such as concrete. Art school trained, Le Corbusier designed spaces for living, in a bid to change the typical crowded cityscapes he came across in his travels across Europe.

In 1931 Le Corbusier came up with an architectural colour palette which he used to create a sense of space and harmony inside and outside of his buildings. The system is laid out as a sliding colour chart, consisting of 12 pages, where you can create colour combinations by sliding across the centre to reveal different colours to pair up with the header and footer colour. The Le Corbusier website has an interactive version which you can find here. There is also a nice video of a copy that came up for auction on the Co Design website.

This apparently simple tool demonstrates how a visual colour chart can be really important to designers when making choices about colour within their work. The colours still resonate today, despite an updated version being produced in 1959 with a reduced colour set. It feels very similar to many of the colour combinations offered by contemporary paint producers such as Farrow and Ball

Exhibition – Weaving Magic – Chris Ofili, 26th April to 28th August 2017, National Gallery, London

Chris Ofili‘s work has evolved from the colourful , dazzling collages perched on elephant dung which I first saw at the infamous Sensation show at the Royal Academy of Art way back in 1997, and more recently at MUMOK, Vienna. The works at MUMOK looked lonely, and lost but the a lot of the work at MUMOK looked like that. My experience there was rather unwelcoming, so much so I didn’t even write about visiting there in my Vienna Posts (here, here and here).

His work is still colourful and cultural but is far more pictorial and crossed mediums into weaving. ‘Weaving Magic‘ is a collaborative piece really, the piece took Dovecot Tapestry Studio three years to make, the labour undertaken by five weavers. Surrounding the weaving are dancers, drawn onto the wall from the cornice to the skirting by members of the Royal Opera House scenography department. The drawings look like they’ve been done in graphite or a soft HB pencil and are actually panel installations, created just like the ROH’s backdrops.

What is really magical is how the translation of Ofili’s original watercolours into thread. The tonal gradations really look like they’ve been painted on in a wash of water and paint. It reminds me of the Shadow Tissue technique, where thread was printed before being woven to create blurred images. I can only guess how the weaver’s achieved this affect. The work was funded by The Clothworkers Company who will now host the work in the Clothworker’s Hall.

Exhibition – X Play – Camille Walala, 14th July to 24th September, Now Gallery, London

Camille Walala is a textile designer whose work has branched out into installation pieces. Her exhibition at the Now Gallery in Greenwich was a colourful pattern maze which asked the viewer to question their perception and visual memory whilst enjoying a brightly coloured space. You were meant to spot the pattern anomalies but we mainly enjoyed the intersections created by mirrors and space.

Practitioner – Verner Panton

 

Verner Panton was a Danish designer whose work covered everything from interior, products, furniture and textiles. He liked to use bright colours and bold patterns. I came across his work via Hella Jongerius when reading about the Colour and Material Library at Vitra.

You’d probably recognise the curvy, stackable plastic chairs he designed in 1960. His style is very 60s and 70s infact. The colour is so saturated it’s unbelievable. Plastic is used everywhere although his textiles are a mixture of manmade (polyester and rayon) and natural (cotton, wool). His Anatomical Design series feature photographic imagery printed onto cretonne, a heavy cotton upholstery fabric. The aesthetic of these prints is really unusual, the stencil photographic style not something normally used in textile design. Using such a photorealist approach is normally something that is associated with digital textile printing which is unusual because paper printers have used this style for decades.

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Dissemination – DataAche Exhibition, Radiant Gallery, Plymouth 9th-12th September 2017

 

My work was shown in the Radiant Gallery, Plymouth as part of the DataAche Conference, the 21st International Conference on Digital Research in the Humanities and Arts.

I presented a colour reference book which features 1137 Pantone Colours printed across 5 substrates (paper, wool, linen, cotton and silk) to compare the visual differences. Each colour featured a table of metrics listing the numeric values needed to create it digitally (RGB, HSB, LAB, CMYK and Hex). 4 printed colour charts (wool, linen, cotton and silk) were hung on the wall so that visitors could get a closer look at the differences between the substrates. I wanted to demonstrate that the substrate being printed upon played a big part in colour result.

After making the colour reference book I used a spectrophotometer to measure each coloured swatch in the book. The values returned were translated back into digital colour, using LAB values, and converted into HSB data in order to compare the hue, saturation and brightness shifts between the original screen colour chosen and resulting printed colour. To visualise the shifts I created colour maps using hue, saturation and brightness circles with the screen colour plotted centrally and the resulting colours placed on the outer rings to demonstrate where hues were shifting, and how the intensity and lightness of colours changed. I proceeded to take an average of each colour shift to create a predicted colour change which was plotted on a second map so that each hue had two maps to show actual shift and predicted shift. These maps were printed onto matt textured paper and displayed on the wall alongside the reference book and colour charts.

Its all work in progress for the moment, the next step is to test if the predicted colours are a better match than current software gamut mapping previews.

The group exhibition featured work by other 3D3 students on the theme that we are drowning in data and the use and misuse of data.

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