The Art of John Piper in Fabric and Textiles.

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John Piper (1903–1992) is one of the most significant British artists of the twentieth-century.   An official war artist during the 2nd world war, he came to prominence soon after, known for paintings, tapestries and designing large scale glass windows, such as those in Liverpool and Coventry Cathedrals.

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The ‘rerados’ tapestry in Chichester Cathedral 1966

 

Many of his bold designs were printed on textiles making his work more accessible to ordinary people by bringing his art in the home for a relatively cheap price.

 

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Chiesa della Salute (1959) one of Piper’s Venice scenes produced as furnishing fabric, the curtain below showing how well the repeat blocks of his design work.

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He designed fabric for many well know textile companies, this is ‘stones of bath’ for Arthur Sanderson, 1960.

 

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‘Foliate Head’s produced by David Whitehead in  1954

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In an exhibition in 2016 at Pallant House Chichester,  Piper’s ‘Abstract Painting’ of 1935,  shows the original oil painting  alongside the screen print fabric made by the textile manufacturer, David Whitehead Ltd. in 1955

Interesting article in The Independent in 2016 by Claudia Pritchard, ‘How John Piper ..changed post war Britain’

Tate Liverpool have a John Piper exhibition from 17th November 2017 – 18th March 2018

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Artist Textiles.

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The early 20th century saw the rise of artists having their designs  printed on fabric to be used in the house or as pieces of clothing. This meant that their art was accessible to the masses rather than being owned by galleries or the very rich. After the war a movement called ‘a masterpiece in every home’ became popular and saw many great artists such as Salvador Dali, Joan Miro and John Piper having their designs printed and used widely.

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Rare vintage 1920’s cotton fabric by french textile artist Raoul Dufy who was one of the first to have his designs printed on cotton fabric. This piece was originally used as a pair of curtains.

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This wonderful Picasso print cotton fabric made into 1950’s style dress. By the 1960’s  Picasso was allowing many of his art work to be printed on to dress fabric, he apparently wouldn’t allow his work to be used for sofas or chairs “Picasso may be leaned against, not sat on” the curator of the 2014 exhibition of textile art  was quoted as saying.

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The piece above printed on soft rayon material, originally curtains is now being made into a skirt.

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Northern Cathedral – a 1960’s work  by John Piper screen printed on  cotton fabric.

 

 

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David Whitehead & Sons Fabrics

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The Lancashire textile company David Whitehead & Sons originally set up in 1815, came to prominence in the 1950’s having exhibited at the Festival of Britain in 1951. The company produced some wonderful fabric during the 1950’s by artists and designers such as John Piper, Marian Mahler, Jaqueline Groag, Terence Conran and Henry Moore. Many can be found in the V&A collection.

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‘solstice’ by Cliff Holden

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abstract painterly design in barkcloth cotton

Eye catching and popular these fabrics were the height of mid 20th Century fashion and used extensively in interior design. Interestingly the company also provided specialist fabric for the Scott’s 1957 polar expedition.

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“Eduardo” by Terence Conran design dated 1952

 

Like so many textile firms in Britain the company almost died out, but in 1996 Bernard Laverty bought the company name and now he and his wife Jill Worrall are bringing the company back to life producing the same fabulous 1950’s designs in Lancashire mills once again, just six to begin with, but hopefully more in the future.

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When Jill bought a length of David Whitehead fabric from me for her ever growing fabric achive, it was so exciting to hear her story of the relaunching of these iconic fabric designs. Check out their website and facebook page below to find out more.

David Whitehead website

David Whitehead facebook page

More information about Vintage Fabric can be found by following these links

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