Sunday 4 November 2012

Liberty style

Long long ago before I grew up I wanted to be a textile designer, I love pattern and colour and growing up in the 60's and 70's there was no shortage of wild vibrant prints. Liberty and Sanderson were for me very inspirational and aspirational, I yearned after a liberty print maxi dress! The stylised flowing forms were a direct hark back to the work of the pre-raphaelites, my favourite art movement. William Morris being the leading light in both wallpaper and fabric design.

William Morris 1834-1836

Morris was a hugely influential designer, political theorist,environmental campaigner,writer and poet and under his direction Morris & co grew and flourished.

tulip and Willow 1879
Selection of liberty prints

 Liberty was the creation of Artur Lasenby Liberty.The first Liberty store was opened in 1875, a bazaar of eastern curiosities, later Liberty concentrated on fabric design enveloping the Arts and Craft ideals becoming linked with Sanderson in the 1940's. I remember In the 1970's being surrounded by a sea of Sanderson and liberty. The designs appearing on everything from curtains and soft furnishings to clothing.                                  

Recently I was sorting through some things for my Mother and in the depths of a dusty drawer found a collection of my A level fabric designs and prints.(She never throws anything away!) They seemed to me to be very evocative of the 1970's in their colour and forms, brown, green and orange shades, yet with a strong connection with the liberty styles that I loved. Some were frankly rather bad, yet interesting. As the years go by both taste and style change in Art as well as design. There is a design I found for kitchen curtains that I find hard to believe would ever work!

Very Liberty Style!

Finished fabric and repeat design.

When I was learning to silk screen print we handcut all the individual acetate stencils and drew and handpainted the repeat design on a grid . It was a time consuming business trying to get the pattern to repeat without obvious gaps or flaws, I guess it's now all done on the computer and ink jet printers now, what would William Morris have thought!!

A kitchen curtain design???!!!!!

Bathroom curtains??!!
Once at Art college I moved away from fabric printing, preferring to use more three dimensional forms of working, particularly wool and felt, however I still am very much in love with pattern and use it in my work today.


  1. This is one of the most interesting posts I've read in a long time - something about art, something about history, personal remembrances (yes, very seventies) and your own artwork. Couldn't be better.

    I do like the jam pots design. It would make a terrific notebook or diary cover, or a great coffee cup design. It really has something, even if it would be a bit much as curtains.

    I too love Liberty fabrics. I've made four quilts with small pieces and scraps I used to be able to buy from a man who sold unusual oddments of fabric to quilters. The best thing about them is that any colour or pattern always goes (quilt wise) with anything else.

  2. Lovely post, I love William Morris, the artichoke is wonderful. I can picture you going through the depths of a deep, dusty drawer. How lovely finding some of your old art work! I like the poppy design and the kitchen design is great, I could see that working back in the 70's but there are elements of it which would work now I feel.


Thank you for stopping by, I love to hear from you.