Real Dirty Blue

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Private View of Central St Martin’s exhibition ‘Real Dirty Blue‘ this week. It is a show of textile design from Central St Martins’ past and current staff and graduates, with many pieces being pulled from the little known archive of textile design held at the college in Kings Cross, London. The title ‘Real Dirty Blue’ is inspired by textile designer Joyce Clissold’s dye book from which a sample colour, labeled ‘real dirty blue’, has been recreated for the show.

It was lovely to see so many familiar faces milling around the gallery after having taken a break from the hectic world of international textiles for a while. As was said in the opening speeches, “If someone dropped a bomb on the building tonight, the great and the good of the British Textile design world would be wiped out!” The heritage of Central St Martins’ Textile courses is one of ground breaking creativity, good design and innovation. This is evident in the selection of work exhibited in the college’s Lethaby Gallery. The work dates from 1927 to the present and encompasses the full gamut of textile design and technology explored throughout this period, from the experimental laser cut techniques of Laura Baker, who works with traditional substrates such as silk, and recycled materials to the original wood blocks of Joyce Clissold, one of the great doyennes of the textile world.


Laura baker
Laura Baker

It was a great pleasure to see the innovative work of Philippa Brock who has been developing multi-layered woven structures. These  are concertinaed to form delicate geometric 3D shapes. Philippa is also a co-leader with Jo Pierce, of the Houndstooth Studio, which is a textile and material future research and development studio. They have worked on the Houndstooth project, specifically designed to be inclusive and egalitarian by including people from all walks of life in their workshops and projects.

Anne Marr and Rebecca Hoyes have collaborated to create new material hybrids, they have been working with fibre and ceramic processes to create glazed textiles, destined for incorporeation ito future home textiles applications. The collection of samples have been exhibited almost as a cabinet of curiosities. I love the simplicity of colour and basic forms of knots, braids and threads dipped in the ceramic coating.

Dipping back into the traditions of textile design as the majority of people know it, the botanical drawings and prints of Mary Harper date to 1960, and epitomise the semi-flourescent colouring and styling of the period, it is fascinating to see the transformation of her original botanical sketches through to the finished printed textile length on show in this exhibition.

There are so many examples of boundary pushing textiles in this exhibition it is impossible to mention them all, but I would thoroughly recommend a visit!

The Exhibition Real Dirty Blue runs until 1st April 2016

At The Lethaby Gallery, 1 Granary Square London N1C 4AA