William Morris Gallery, Walthamstow 2 April – 11 September 2022

Phoenix member Rosaline Darby recently visited this exhibition, and this is what she says about it:

The William Morris Gallery is always a rewarding place to visit, with its permanent displays about the company Morris & Co and the life and philosophy of William Morris himself, and the temporary exhibitions are often of great interest. The current one, featuring a retrospective of the career of revolutionary Trinidadian designer Althea McNish (1924 – 2020) is truly inspirational.

McNish’s impactful and visually stunning works burst onto the post-war British design scene with an explosion of Caribbean colour, combined with imagery drawn from the British countryside. It is no surprise that they were snapped up by the likes of Liberty and Hull Traders. Exciting then, they still feel relevant today, and indeed Liberty have re-issued a limited range of fabrics to tie in with the exhibition.

Golden Harvest was one of McNish’s most popular and enduring designs.

Her designs were used in fashion as well as soft furnishings.

As well as commercial fabric lengths, some of McNish’s original paintings, drawings and acetate sheets are displayed, offering an insight into the process that she used to produce her multi-layered, complex designs. Experimenting with different techniques, she often used monoprinting and lightboxes to replicate her drawings, overlaying them with paint, crayon and acetate to achieve a variety of textures and colour combinations.

I highly recommend a visit to this exhibition. The café is pretty good too!

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