gallery gallery
Roger Fry*

Roger Fry*

Vanessa Bell*

zoom inVanessa Bell*

Linen Sample Swatch

Linen Sample Swatch

gallery

Vanessa Bell - Omega Workshop 1912-19

Omega became the centre of avant-garde design in Britain in the years immediately before 1914 period and a precursor of the Art Deco style. Influenced by contemporary painting, all the artists and designers in his co-operative were interested and excited by French Post-Impressionists. Fry had organised two Post-Impressionist exhibitions in 1910 and 1912 showing the work of Matisse, Picasso and Cezanne, a movement not accepted or recognised by the London art establishment. Whilst in Paris choosing paintings for the exhibitions he would have visited the Atelier Martine, a studio for the Decorative Arts, set up by Paul Poiret in 1911. Fry also wanted to promote painting and the decorative arts together and sell the products. The firm established a fashion for abstract and geometric design influenced by Cubism. The Fauvists use of colour was also influential to the Workshop’s products. As well as fabrics, carpets, screens, painted furniture, lamps, trays, pottery, tiles, boxes, bead necklaces, parasols, opera bags, fans and silk scarves were all produced. An interior decorating service offered painted murals or abstract patterns on walls, doors and fireplaces, all in a comfortable and colourful style.

Furnishing fabrics were one of the most succesful products produced by the Workshops . Six linens were designed by Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and Frederick Etchells and hand block printed in France by Besselievre, at the Maromme Print Works Company, Rouen. The Company had a London office at 6 Snow Hill which is where Fry would have placed his order. Fry in a letter of May 1913, reported that the French firm that's doing them are full of enthusiasm and are altering all their processes to get rid of the mechanical and return to older, simpler methods. It has always been assumed that wood blocks covered in felt were used. Winifred Gill remembered that the Maromme factory was overrun by the Germans during the war and Fry had to find a firm further south who could take over the printing. The identity of this firm is unknown. Miss Gill recalled that they evolved a scheme of making lino-type metal blocks to print with and in order to give a slight play of light and colour in the surface as well as not too rigid an outline the metal was washed over with glue and sprinkled with flock which gave it a softer surface and a softer edge.In August 1917, in an interview with the magazine Drawing and Design , Fry said that the roller-printing of the machine was used in the production of Omega linens. Thus a variety of processes might have been used. Fry was very pleased with the results and lent examples to the Victoria & Albert Museum in November 1913. They were accepted as a gift in December and Maud can be seen on display in the 20th Century galleries. The Museum thought that they might become great curiosities in the future. *

1 2 3