Women Designers in 1960s Britain
This catalogue brings together the work of eight women designers: Barbara Brown, Shirley Craven, Ann Ogle,
Evelyn Redgrave, Gabrielle Fountain, Barbara Pegg, Linda Harper and Zandra Rhodes. All the following
textiles were made for visionary manufacturers Heal Fabrics and Hull Traders between 1958 and 1974. I wanted
to celebrate the impact these women had, especially Brown and Craven, on a hugely exciting and dynamic period in British design. They were ground-breaking leaders in their field, in a unique decade in cultural history, and their influence is felt today.
When I started my own business in 1992, post-war British textiles were what I concentrated on, because I loved
the power and originality of their design. I built a collection based on my taste and what was considered important at the time of manufacture. After we published our 2002 catalogue Post-War British Textiles, I had a phone call from Shirley Craven. She told me that her friend, the designer Doreen Dyall, had brought along our catalogue to their weekly catch-up in Café Valerie in Soho: they were both excited at seeing their work featured and paid attention to, which was surprisingly rare at that time. I went to visit Craven in her home in South London, and was struck by her style and force of personality. She retained a spirit of the sixties and had a strong sense of self that was inspiring to me.
Since the early nineties, Lesley Jackson in particular has done a huge amount to advance the scholarship of postwar textiles, highlighting the wider significance of design in this period. The textiles of the sixties ontributed to an aesthetic that was truly revolutionary, and comparatively short-lived. Now much more attention is being paid, but this period in British art, culture, and design is of iconic importance, and still merits a more concentrated focus and wider recognition.