Saturday, 25 June 2011

Collier Campbell Design Sisters

 There is currently a free exhibition at the National Theatre of the design story of the Collier Campbell sisters, prolific painters onto fabric.  It is well worth poking your head around this exbition and being utterly charmed and understanding their footprint on English textiles and bohemia; it is quietly and leisurely tucked away: collier-campbell-exhibition

The exhibition is a celebration of 50 years of Collier Campbell.

Their bold use of colour, clashing compositions and immediate florals played a part in the burgeoning British bohemia in textiles during the 60s, rejecting the subtle and traditional depictions of English gentility, they brought the colours of Matisse and foreign lands to their paintings and prints.  Working initially for Liberty's of London and also feted by design houses such as Yves St Laurent, they now licence their prints to many British department stores, for home decor, crockery, paper goods as well as producing an independent line.

Susan Campbell has said that she "wanted to be a painter, but was no Matisse".  I loved seeing the Sisters' paintings on pieces of brown parcel paper and corrugated cardboard included in the exhibition.  Reminding me of times when I would paint on anything to hand, scrap cardboard mostly and directly onto the back boards of old picture frames.

It is easy to see their influence on English designers who followed, such as Matthew Williamson, who is famous for his bohemian and colourful designs.


(photograph from Collier Campbell)

To:  Susan Collier, 12 October 1938 - 7 May 2011


  1. ah, i heard an interesting interview with the remaining sister on woman's hour last week. she seems very nice and described how hard they worked during their prolific time together. she also discussed how the style of their textiles was dictated to by the fashions and mode of the time, rather than the other way around!

  2. Wow!
    I wish I could go see that exhibition!
    Those designs are so vivbrant and wonderful!

  3. Hi sister :) you can probably catch up on the interview on bbc iplayer! thanks for your comment on the lino prints- and break a match next time you have bad luck! x

  4. We are fabric addicts at Bear your blog !

  5. O wow--I really love hearing about the history behind these--you really can see the colors of Matisse in them!

  6. Very interesting and beautiful. Thanks God we don˝t have such beutiful textils in our shops - I could spend a fortune on fabrics.

  7. I enjoyed these images from the exhibition, thanks for sharing them with us. These fabrics are gorgeous.