This is the first in a short series of blogs about our main show for 2020, Mid Century Romanticism (1930-1970) which looks at what happened to the 1930s Pastoral and Romantic trends in art and design after WW2. The current plan is to show a representative display of original and print art, complimented by design in textiles, book illustration, ceramics and furniture of the 1950s and 1960s.

In anticipation of holding this show, we have acquired designer textiles of the period published by Sanderson and Heals, who employed top artists and designers of the day. The top image is of part of a pair of screen printed curtains using the ‘Stones of Bath’ design created by John Piper. This was one of a number of commissioned works that marked the anniversary of Arthur Sanderson and Co in 1960.

Sandersons are perhaps now better known for their range of arts and crafts themed William Morris and Morris & Co designs, but also as can be seen dipped their toes into the contemporary art market after the war. The abstract quality of this Piper creation is very evocative of his moody often architectural landscapes produced in prints and paintings at the time.

As a corruscating contrast is the bold design of Teasels by Jane Daniels (below), used in a curtain fabic published by Heals at around the same time.  It has that freshness of aesthetic that characterised the post Festival of Britain scene in interiors, furnishings and ceramics of a time that saw the nascence of Scandinavian design influence in both imported goods and the response of English manufacturers and makers. It will feature in a period interiors display as part of the 2020 exhibition.

Teasel - square

So it is this emergence from the years of wartime austerity and rationing, and blossoming of colour and contemporary design, that we intend to encapsulate in some small way in our exhibits next May/June. So objects both made in and influenced by Mediterranean and international design will feature, including ceramics made by Michael Cardew by that time inspired by village traditions under an African sun in Ghana and Nigeria.