Passion in pattern

21 Nov

Rummaging through The Collier Campbell Archive, a giant (and it is enormous) new book dedicated to the life and work of textile designer sisters Susan Collier and Sarah Campbell, I found myself experiencing strange flashes of nostalgia.

For there I’m sure was a dress my mum had in the eighties, and there some curtains we had when I was a child, and there a Liberty scarf that someone must have worn.

Collier Campbell’s designs were everywhere in the eighties and nineties, and even today M&S is using Sarah’s patterns on their bed linen and bathroom ranges (Susan died in May 2011). They specialised in painterly designs, calling on Matisse and William Morris, flowers and leaves and the natural world. The book displays some of the highlights from the sisters’ 50 years working together, and 30,000-strong archive, including reproductions of their original painted designs. It’s really wonderful to see how they worked them out, from sketches to paintings to the finished fabrics.

“We would all bring in bits and pieces we liked and pin them up,” says Sarah about their studios. “The motifs we loved, references found or sights noticed by chance – perhaps sunlight falling on a tree on a cloudy day-all became creative provocations that could spur us on our journeys.”

The Collier Campbell Archive is published by Ilex Books. Sarah is in conversation at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London tomorrow night.


Bird Stripe design, from 1972:

Egyptian Birds sketch, 1976:

Skirt design, 1981:

The ladies themselves in their colourful studio:


One Response to “Passion in pattern”

  1. Author Annette J Dunlea Irish Writer November 21, 2012 at 6:46 pm #

    Reblogged this on Annette J Dunlea Irish Author.

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