The Textiles of Lucienne Day by Jan Miller

For the past six months I've been working on a project with Beth Alden (CEO at New Brewery Arts), and have been hearing advance snippets about the New Brewery Arts' programming calendar. So I'd been looking forward to visiting Lucienne Day: Living Design for quite some time. It was a curious experience. There was joyous familiarity to some of the exhibits, whilst also so much more to explore and learn about the artist.

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With a background and career in fashion, I've always had an appreciation of good design, and so have many of my friends.  Through the exhibition I noted that a few of them are lucky enough to live with a piece of Lucienne Day in their homes and, judging by some of New Brewery Arts' recent social media, a few exhibition visitors also share their homes with Day.  I hadn't thought of Day as such an accessible textile artist before, but for me she definitely scores highly now in that regard.  Her Calyx textile print (on show at New Brewery Arts until 20th May) was designed for the 1951 Festival of Britain and launched her career. It was sold originally through Heal's then - if my memory serves me right - Liberty sold it around 20 years ago (when my friends saved and saved to buy 10 metres for the statement curtains they still own), and now it's available from John Lewis.   Another friend has inherited some of Day's Apex  fabric, passed down from her parents, originally bought from Heal's but - unlike Calyx - isn't currently available. She often gets the piece out from her fabric trunk and it inspires her to talk about the various rooms it has adorned (and events it's seen) over its time in her family. 

 Lucienne Day: Living Design at New Brewery Arts. Photo credit: Rupert Russell

Lucienne Day: Living Design at New Brewery Arts. Photo credit: Rupert Russell

The piece of Day in my home isn't quite so visible, but I knew where to find it as soon as I got back from the exhibition. I collect old fashion and textiles books, and I have a small illustrated reference book by Terence Conran 'Printed Textile Design' published by The Studio Limited in 1957 where he curated the leading textile artists of the time and sources of inspiration. Lucienne and Robin Day are there in this treasured book alongside esteemed designer/artists Piero Fornasetti and Eduardo Paolozzi. In the book Day talks about the thoughtful use of textile print in modern interiors, and this is definitely conveyed in the New Brewery Arts exhibition through the 50 or so photographs of Day in her studio, at home, and working on her various creative projects. My favourite photograph is the one of her display shelves in her Cheyne Walk living room. I think you can learn so much from someone's collected objects and books.

 Lucienne Day with Diabolo wallpaper (1951) in Cheyne Walk studio. Copyright the Robin & Lucienne Day Foundation.

Lucienne Day with Diabolo wallpaper (1951) in Cheyne Walk studio. Copyright the Robin & Lucienne Day Foundation.

If you are lucky enough to visit the exhibition before it closes do tell the New Brewery Arts team if you have a personal Lucienne Day story.

www.janmiller.co

Lucienne Day: Living Design is at New Brewery Arts until 20th May 2018.

Mon-Sat 9am-5pm
Sun & Bank Holiday Mondays 10am-4pm
CLOSED EASTER SUNDAY