Archives for Royal College of Art

British Artist John Minton Show at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

THE painter John Minton’s lively illustrations were very familiar to British people during the gloomy post-war years of the 1940s and ‘50s. His imitable style, which was instantly recognisable, appeared on film posters, textiles and book covers and captured the spirit of the times. Minton was a leading illustrator and a highly influential tutor at the Royal College of Art who worked in the Neo-Romantic tradition. He was also a prolific figurative painter and muralist and it this aspect of his work that the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester celebrates in a new exhibition. On display are wartime landscapes and paintings that explore current events of the time and book illustrations, posters and lithographs. Other work includes portraits of male students, friends and his partner, Raymond Ray.

John Minton, painting, Pallant House GalleryJohn Minton, Jamaican Village, 1951, oil on canvas, 152.4 x 362 cm, private collection.
Photograph: Courtesy of Christie’s Images Limited/Bridgeman Images and the Royal College of Art

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Minton registered as a conscientious objector but later served with the Royal Pioneer Corps. During this time he collaborated with the artist, Michael Ayrton in designing sets and costumes for John Gielgud’s production of Macbeth. Travelling to Europe and the Caribbean after the war, he became fascinated by the vibrancy of Jamaica where he identified “a disquiet that is potent and nameless”.

His impressions of life there manifest in his arresting twilight scene entitled Jamaican Village, a striking mural in deep green, fuchsia and acid hues that simmer with racial and political tension. Minton refused to conform to abstraction and preferred to paint figuratively. His paintings also reflect his conflict of emotions as a gay artist as he produced work at a time when homosexuality was illegal in Britain.

T202 IM 77John Minton, Landscape Near Kingston, Jamaica, 1950, Ink and watercolour on paper, Pallant House Gallery (Hussey Bequest, Chichester District Council). Photograph: Courtesy of Royal College of Art

In Corsica, Minton produced illustrations for Elizabeth David’s iconic book on Mediterranean food. While her recipes of garlic, wine and olives revitalised appetites dampened by the monotony of war-time rationing, Minton’s depiction of  sunny seas and al fresco dining hinted optimistically at a better lifestyle.

John Minton, Painting, Pallant House GalleryJohn Minton, Melon Sellers, Corsica, 1948, Oil on canvas, 56 x 46 cm, Jerwood Gallery.
Photograph: Courtesy of Royal College of Art

by Miranda Charalambous

The exhibition, John Minton: A Centenary is on until  October 1 at the Pallant House Gallery, 9 North Pallant, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 1TJ
Telephone: +44 (0)1243 774557

Front page image: John Minton, Bridge from Cannon Street Station, 1946, Oil on canvas, 49 x 60cm, Pembroke College, Oxford, JCR Art Collection. Photograph: Courtesy of Royal College of Art

Husband and Wife Design-Duo Longshaw Ward Found Brand

LONGSHAW Ward is the eclectic, vibrant and thoroughly modern new womenswear and accessories label founded by husband-and-wife duo Kirsty Ward and David Longshaw. Central Saint Martins alumni who first met in Italy while working for Alberta Ferretti’s design studio, both Kirsty and David are celebrated designers in their own right who have, up until now, received international acclaim from their individual eponymous labels – pieces of which have featured in  Vogue, Elle, Grazia and Nylon to name but a few.

lw-6Longshaw Ward SS17 © Longshaw Ward

Prospects for the pair’s collaborative enterprise – which benefits from their combined expertise and design experience, and which reflects their idiosyncrasies, individual characters and sartorial specialties – certainly look promising therefore.

The brand’s aesthetic is contemporary, the basis for which is the juxtaposition between a masculine silhouette and the more feminine draping of fabric, throughout which David’s distinctly illustrative style, with hand-drawn-like lines and shapes features heavily – the fluidity and spontaneity of which contrasts with the structured, somewhat industrial statement jewellery that has always been at the forefront of Kirsty’s brand.

Longshaw Ward SS17 © Longshaw Ward

For their debut SS17 collection, the couple returned to Central Saint Martins where they rifled through library materials in search of inspiration for the season. Vogue archives from the 30s and 40s – in which peplum and nipped-in waists featured heavily – in addition to the artworks of Salvador Dali and Thomas Vach, as well as Vicent Darre’s Alice-in-Wonderland-like interiors determined the starting point for their design process.

The distortion of shapes, lines and the creation of unusual silhouettes thus became the defining element of the collection. The asymmetric profile, created from the layering of voluminous fabrics, is exaggerated by the overlaying of materials – crepe, neoprene and denim – cut into irregular shapes, which protrude from the garments and create futuristic forms.

The result is almost surrealist, enhanced by the clashing of colours and contrasting of textures. Beads and sequins feature alongside denim items overlayed with netting and gold stitch detailing. Print adorned with flora and fauna contrast with block reds and oranges as well as grey, blacks and whites. The mood is youthful, playful and animated.

Jewellery is likewise striking –aluminum wire and gold paracord buckles contrast with silk ties and floral detail crafted from Swarovski crystals, which add a touch of delicacy and slight daintiness to the pieces, without reducing their impact.


Longshaw Ward SS17 © Longshaw Ward

Every item from Longshaw and Ward’s collection is hand-crafted in the couple’s London studio, allowing the designers to exhibit their craftsmanship, fully explore their art and further develop their vision for the brand.

The Purpose of It recently interviewed David, and received an exclusive insight into the pair’s musings and creative process.

What defines the Longshaw Ward brand? What makes the label’s aesthetic unique in today’s global fashion market?
The global market is over crowded with generic over produced product that has been churned out by big labels in a desperate attempt to stop ailing sales, made in cheap factories pretending to be high end. Longshaw Ward is made and designed in England with fun and passion. We pattern cut and sample everything in our London studio keep the process creative. The prints are all hand illustrated by us and digitally printed in England.

Do you have any particular muses? Do you design with a particular woman in mind?
We don’t design with one person in mind – she’s not an age, a face, a body, she’s more of an idea. She likes to have fun with fashion, doesn’t take herself too seriously, she’s interested in what’s going on in the world and appreciates fine design and luxury details. She wants to wear something unique and appreciates that all our pieces are designed and made in the UK.


Longshaw Ward SS17 © Longshaw Ward

Do you have any brands or designers that you particularly admire or that have inspired your own work in any way?
There are lots of brands and designers we admire. We try not to be too influenced by any particular brand – we want to forge our own path and create our own unique style – but we do love the work of Miuccia Prada, Nicolas Ghesquiere and are excited to see what Raf does at Calvin Klein.

Your studio is based in London – does working in the British capital have an impact upon your work? Do you derive inspiration from London life, culture and style?
Though we weren’t born in London it feels like home – particularly creatively. We both studied fashion design in London, Kirsty went to Central Saint Martins for her MA whereas I got my BA there, going on to the  Royal College of Art for my MA. We met designing for Alberta Ferretti in Italy –  then returned to England to start our own labels – now based in London. From the people, to the galleries and theatre, to the amazing architecture London is constantly inspiring.

Longshaw Ward SS17 © Longshaw Ward

This is you and Kirsty’s first collaborative collection – in what ways has the transition from a solo to a joint enterprise been a challenge for you? And in what ways has it been rewarding?
At first Kirsty was a little bossy but she’s chilled out now and it is brilliant to work together. So much more fun than when we worked separately and quicker – the collection was ready and photographer a month and a half early. And we feel that Longshaw Ward is stronger creatively and commercially and with more potential than either of our past labels.

This may be a little personal but, how do you and Kirsty make the professional partnership work? How do you discuss ideas, deliberate and come to make decisions for the brand as a pair?
We work on everything together   from designing the concept, to selecting the fabrics, to the designing the jewellery and designing the prints.


Longshaw Ward SS17 © Longshaw Ward

Are you able to give us an insight into what the future holds for the brand? Where do you hope to be in five years or so?
The future is exciting – the industry is changing rapidly, but we want to continue to grow and continue to have fun with what we are doing. There are a lot of very stressed, and confused people in the fashion industry, scared of the future, fashion is supposed to be enjoyable and creative, other wise it’s just about creating generic uniforms for the masses and becomes a pointless task.

by Hannah Bergin

For more information, contact or

Twitter: @longshawward

Kitty Joseph Launches AW16 Colour Fields Rainbow Collection

FASHION designer Kitty Joseph has launched her AW 16 Colour Fields Rainbow Fashion collection. The range is inspired by prints, gradients and Josef Albers’ handbook Interaction of Color. The handbook influenced and inspired Joseph to explore the relationship of two colours in isolation. The collection uses a simple colour palette but ventures into different patterns and textures, resulting in a thrilling explosion of colour. The collection also sees Joseph’s first exploration into knitwear.

Kitty Joseph AW 16 Colour Fields Rainbow Fashion Collection Copyright © 2016 Kitty JosephAW 16 Collection Copyright ©2016 Kitty Joseph


Kitty Joseph AW 16 Colour Fields Rainbow Fashion Collection Copyright © 2016 Kitty JosephAW 16 Collection Copyright © 2016 Kitty Joseph

Joseph’s career first began at the Royal College of Art where she graduated with an MA in Textile Design. She gained instant industry recognition in 2011 after unexpectedly selling her entire graduate collection. Joseph has since collaborated on an array of projects with brands and celebrities ranging from Absolut Vodka to Lady Gaga.

Kitty Joseph AW 16 Colour Fields Rainbow Fashion Collection Copyright © 2016 Kitty Joseph
AW 16 Collection Copyright © 2016 Kitty Joseph

Always a lover of colour, painting and illustration, the foundation of the brand is built upon colour exploration and textile innovation, which the new collection epitomises. Additionally, a wider collection of complementary pieces will be available later in the year.

Kitty Joseph AW 16 Colour Fields Rainbow Fashion Collection Copyright © 2016 Kitty JosephAW 16 Collection Copyright ©2016 Kitty Joseph

by Rebecca Acres

Well Covered: an Interview with Shauna Dennison of Cole & Son

  • Shauna Dennison, creative director of Cole & Son


WHEN it comes to interior design, there are few things as essential and easy to personalise as what you put on your walls. Enter the world of bespoke wallpaper, which is an ancient tradition. Records indicate that paper was first used as a wall decoration in 200 BC by the Chinese, who affixed rice paper to walls. By the 16th century, the Chinese had imported wallpaper to Europe, where it become highly popular and much in demand as a wall covering. In fact the wallpaper-making trade became so well-established in France that in 1599 a guild of painters and paperhangers, called the “dominotiers” (also referred to as the PDC) was set up.

Heritage brand Cole & Son is one of the oldest wallpaper companies in the UK. Founded in 1875 by John Perry, who was the son of a merchant from Cambridgeshire, Cole & Son has enjoyed a long and storied reputation with its specialty wallpapers donning the walls of almost every major castle and historic house in England, including Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament.

In the 19th century, the Cole & Son headquarters were originally located in Islington, north London, an area which was well known for printing companies at the time. Cole & Son became famous for its stripes and other signature patterns, and later for re-introducing the pan coating process as well as the process of flocking, which imitated cut velvet.

In 1941, Cole & Son was purchased by AP Cole, proprietor of the company Cole & Son (Wallpapers) Ltd, with showrooms and offices at Mortimer Street in central London. AP Cole also took over the designs of another company,  JC Crace & Son, which provided wall coverings for many stately homes, palaces, castles, and theatres, including the Palace of Westminster, and in turn, gave the company the rights to the most significant collection of wooden printing blocks in Britain.

Nowadays, Cole & Son possess an extensive archive of over 1,800 block print designs, 350 screen-print designs, and a vast collection of original drawings and wallpapers. The company has worked closely with a number of fashion designers and other creative professionals on design collaborations and continues to supply wall coverings for historic homes and important landmarks through the UK.

We recently sat down with Shauna Dennison, creative director for Cole & Son, to learn more about the company, the art of wall coverings, and to learn more about the heritage of this significant, but easily overlooked, industry.

Wallpaper-making is a highly specialist profession. Why did you decide to enter this field?
I actually did a degree in textile design, as at that time wallpaper wasn’t very fashionable and it was all about printed fabrics. As wallpapers gradually became fashionable again, and printed fabrics less so, it was an easy transition to make. It is still about surface pattern – just applying to paper rather than cloth.

You studied at the RCA (Royal College of Art) in London. How has your training and studies influenced your career and vision at Cole and Son?
My time at the RCA allowed me to determine exactly what area of surface pattern I wanted to move into – fashion or interiors. It was there that I worked with some interesting and creative people and organisations within the interiors world (Liberty, Timney Fowler) and this cemented my career direction. As for my “vision” this is something which has evolved over the years, from when I was a child, really. I had a creative upbringing, so looking at design from many different angles has helped make me the designer I am today.

What inspires your designs when you create different collections?
That’s a very difficult one to answer. As a designer it is vitally important to keep your ear very close to the ground and simply being very aware of the world around you is very important. Design on a wider level is about how you live your life and global western trends like the rise of the coffee shop for example, reflect a lifestyle habit which, as a designer, is important to recognise. As far as wallpaper designs go, anything can spark an idea – travel photography, exhibitions, books read, films and of course the rise in digital media, pinterest, blogging etc gives us a wider access to what else is happening in the world.

What have been some of the highlights of your career with Cole and Son so far?
As a lifelong fan of Fornasetti it was a privilege to work with them on the Fornasetti II collection. I also feel lucky to have been at Cole and Son while it was still a working factory and witness some of the old production methods, such as hand flocking and panning. Sadly this aspect of the business is no longer with us on site, although we continue to use artisanal manufacturers around the UK to produce some of our oldest patterns.

What part do you think wall-covering plays in the aesthetics of someone’s home?
I think the part it plays is growing rapidly. When I was a child, wallpaper generally was seen as a background effect, usually used to co-ordinate with curtains and upholstery. Nowadays it stands up in its own right, and has pretty much overtaken printed fabrics in the home, as the ‘statement’ piece.

How do you balance your own point of view as a designer with the heritage of the Cole and Son?
Quite easily really. As I mentioned, I was lucky enough to join Cole and Son while it still manufactured its own product and for me, design and manufacturing go absolutely hand in hand.

That, along with the huge collection of archive documents made it a very interesting place to come and work. Everything in this world comes from somewhere and something, and the most modern designs today wouldn’t be here if they hadn’t had their own predecessors. I respect and recognize the importance of having a very visible heritage as it gives our product a kind of authenticity. And not least, it is an incredible resource to use. Quite often some of our more contemporary papers started out as very old historical designs. It’s all about how you “see” them and how you can visualise what they can become.

Cole and Son has created ranges with Vivienne Westwood and Fornasetti. Can you tell us something about what it is like collaborating with equally design-focussed brands?
It is always very exciting to work with designers who are experts in their field and can bring something new to the table. It is very much a symbiotic relationship which encourages both parties to think outside of their own particular “box”.

Are there any more collaborations planned for the future?
We are always looking for interesting partners as it keeps us fresh as a design company. However there must always be a balance between collaborations and developing your own brand style. There will undoubtedly be collaborations in the future … watch this space!

Cole and Son has a very loyal customer base, do you believe your market is insulated somewhat against the challenges presented by the digital age?
We do have a very loyal customer base, but that is expanding very rapidly to include a huge variety of customers. Yes, we have a traditionalist market which is incredibly important to us but we also have a growing younger and trendier market, who also look to us to deliver something they can aspire to. Digital technology is a tool – whether it be media or production capabilities – it is the message or design we are putting out which is the most important thing for us and our customers.

What do you see the future holding for the high-end wallpaper-making companies?
I would like to think that they will continue to hold their place in the design world. Heritage is becoming an ever more valuable commodity in the eyes of the consumer, but alongside this, you have to keep moving forward as a business and as designers. So long as we can continue to be innovative, imaginative and forward thinking, we hope that people will always want to buy our product.

We notice that Cole and Son has limited social media, is there a particular reason for this?
Cole & Son arrived rather late at the social media party, only launching fairly recently. Social media is an area that is growing organically, with customers seeking Cole & Son out across various platforms. It is important to us that any coverage or views shared are entirely authentic – we don’t court or sponsor social media or blog coverage. The sharing of lifestyle and interior images benefit the business hugely, with inspiring images posted on Pinterest or Facebook often sparking an increase in sample requests and sales of featured items. Being able to view our designs in real situations and seeing the creative and diverse way in which a wall-covering can be used in different environments is also an inspiration to us as a business.

What is Cole and Son’s approach to digital and e-commerce?
Cole & Son have a website and an iPad app. These are a showcase of our product, allowing customers to view by style, colour or collection. There are ongoing improvements to both but we feel that this online showroom is key to inspiring customers, as well as servicing our trade partners. We place importance on showing our designs in an interior setting, displaying wallpaper in context, rather than just presenting a pattern.

We offer a sampling service, where customers can buy samples online to view in their own environment. Roll sales however are only available via our network of retailers. This means customers have access to expert advice and assistance in choosing a design, discussing expert hanging, and giving them the opportunity to touch and feel the product. Wallpaper is a tactile product and needs to be seen and touched to be fully appreciated, so as much as digital can be a support, there is still the desire to handle the product.

by Jessica Quillin