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Sunday, 20 March 2011

Midcentury Modern...

So, to the Midcentury Modern fair at Dulwich college today - so much stunning furniture and fabric to see and be inspired by, though little to be done in the way of buying as many dealers seem to make up a number in their head (and double it) as soon as you brush past their stall.
Beautiful pieces such as these should indeed be treasured and enjoyed but prices such as they are turn them into museum pieces for which they were never intended - Ernest Race and Lucienne Day surely did not mean for their designs to be accessible to only those with show homes and exclusive bank balances to match?
Ms. Day for one believed that good design should be affordable, and in 2003 told the Scotsman newspaper that she had been "very interested in modern painting although I didn’t want to be a painter. I put my inspiration from painting into my textiles, partly, because I suppose I was very practical. I still am. I wanted the work I was doing to be seen by people and be used by people. They had been starved of interesting things for their homes in the war years, either textiles or furniture."

I did notice, however, that the wonderful Pallant House Gallery in Chichester is staging a brilliant exhibition of the work of Robin and Lucienne Day from the end of this month until June. I love this place...
Incidentally, many contributions for the exhibit are coming from collectors in the US - thank God for Jill A. Wiltse and H. Kirk Brown III. It seems that over the years, incredible textile designers such as Day, Jacqueline Groag and Marian Mahler were unappreciated to the extent that many examples of their work no longer exist readily in the UK, though the likes of the wonderful Margaret Howell continues to promote the work of long un-appreciated designers such as Day and Ercol by continuing to commission and sell official reproductions of their work.
These artists, many of whom were women excelling in the field of contemporary post-war design, were first ignored and instead collected overseas and now are out of reach to those of us who wish to put their fabrics to use in a way for which they were originally intended. But at £65 a metre second-hand?
Alas, they are destined to remain behind glass...

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