This year is the centenary of textile designer Lucienne Day’s birth and there are a number of exhibitions on around the country, coordinated by the Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation (details HERE). I was up north at the weekend visiting family and friends and managed to squeeze in a visit to the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester. The first English gallery in a park was founded in 1889 and is part of the university. The Whitworth has had a makeover since my student days in Manchester (a century later, in the 1980s) and has a fantastic extension with a glass promenade that looks over the park and a lovely Art Garden. Lucienne Day: A Sense of Growth is quite a small exhibition but the Whitworth also has a stunning display of Barbara Brown’s work; both women designed fabrics for Heals in the 1960s.
Influences of modern art and horticultural references appear throughout Lucienne Day’s work. The post-war textile designer was an avid gardener, went on botanical holidays abroad and from 1964 onwards spent summers in her cottage garden in Sussex, with furniture designer husband Robin.
‘It’s very useful and satisfying to ask somebody about a design in the very early stages, when you wouldn’t show it to anybody,’ Lucienne Day said, ‘I’ve sat on countless chairs that were pretty unsafe because they were models, and he’s looked at fabrics of mine, and said if he thought they were good or not, or “That stinks and don’t go on with it”, that sort of thing. It’s essential to be frank, and immensely useful.’
The exhibition in Manchester is part of the Whitworth Gallery’s GROW project which promotes ‘the benefits of engaging in horticultural activities to improve mental health and wellbeing’.
We spent one night at a friend’s who doesn’t have wi-fi. Once I would’ve found this alarming but I enjoyed switching off and am now trying to introduce a more regular 5:2 Digital Detox.