Collier Campbell Textile Design at the National Theatre

Friday, 17 June 2011

Patch, 2011

Currently showing at the National Theatre in London is a retrospective of the work of British textile designers and sisters Sarah Campbell and the late Susan Collier. The Collier Campbell designs provide nostalgic, visual memories and a special relevance for those who grew up with their iconic fabrics.

Geometric dance, early 1970s
Spread across the first floor of the theatre, the exhibition offers an extensive selection of Collier Campbell's fabric designs organised across five decades; from the early paisley prints of the 1950s, to the striking ikat designs of the 1980s, to their most recent collections for Marks & Spencer and House of Fraser.

Sherpa, 1986
Susan began her career as a freelance textile designer in 1961, and was soon taken up by Liberty of London Prints, first with designs for scarves and going onto become the Design & Colour Consultant for all fabrics. Younger sister Sarah helped out during her school holidays and their professional partnership emerged.

Lime Flowers, 1995
Over the years they worked with design houses such as Cacherel, Habitat, Jaeger and Yves Saint Laurent who used their prints for his first ready-to-wear collection in 1971. Their hand-painted Liberty silk dress pattern was the basis of his first off-the-peg 'gipsy look'.

Egyptian Birds, 1974
It was their 1980s fabrics such as Cote d’Azur, Tambourine, and Gipsy Dance that brought them success in the US and injected bright, mediterranean pattern and colour into the 1980s American home interior.

Rainforest Huts, late 1990s

Their studio is now based in Stockwell, London and their archive is at Parkhall, the old Art Deco Pye Electronics building in West Norwood, which has been transformed into a hub for creative industries.

A Bowl of lemons, 1994

Sadly, Susan Collier, who was instrumental in setting up the exhibition, died last month. Sarah Campbell said of her sister, "this exhibition is a fitting tribute to our years of work together - an enduring partnership".

Flowers and newspaper, 1984
Exhibition runs until Sunday 10 July 2011
Monday - Saturday, 9.30 - 11.00pm, Sunday 12pm - 6pm