|Phyllis Barron & Dorothy Larcher
Phyllis Barron (1890-1964) and Dorothy Larcher
(1884-1952) met in the Brook Street Gallery
shortly after the First World War, and went on to
form a lifelong partnership during which they
designed and made a range of superb handblock
printed textiles using predominantly natural dyes.
Their work was exhibited in respected Arts and
Crafts Galleries including The Three Shields
Gallery in Kensington Church Street, The Little
Gallery run by Muriel Rose, The New Hand
Workers Gallery, The Mayor Gallery and the
Red Rose Gallery in Manchester.
They were commercially successful attracting
commissions from wealthy private individuals, as
well as public institutions, including Coco Chanel,
the Duke of Westminster, the architect Detmar
Blow, Girton College, Cambridge and
Winchester Cathedral. Their design skills
emerged after early training as painters; Phyllis
Barron at the Slade and Dorothy Larcher at the
Hornsey School of Art. Dorothy Larcher when
she found herself stranded in India for the
duration of the First World War discovered the
art of Indian block printed textiles from villagers.
Phyllis Barron’s influences brought vigorous
abstract design and pattern reflecting the
Vorticists, whereas Dorothy Larcher brought a
naturalistic design style to the textiles they made.
They experimented with blocks cut from a variety
of woods, as well as lino and found objects such
as kitchen utensils. They recovered and developed
natural dying techniques bringing a range of
intense and subtle colour to their work. Their
hand made blocks ‘walked’ over a wide range of
cloths, including linen, hand-woven Indian
cotton, Chinese silk, Rodier woollens, chiffon,
crepe de chine, velvet and organdie. Their prints
were used in furnishing textiles as well as clothes
such as dresses, scarves and stoles. This book is a
poetic representation of their creative partnership
set alongside some of their textiles and the
creative environments in which they worked.
"I should love to meet the person who did it "
Dorothy Larcher to Eve Simmonds
Coming into the room with Eve,
ever so quick, at first I didn’t alight
upon the vigour of bite after bite,
of twisted white that basked over a rock of indigo.
How could I with embroideries
ringed, strewn around?
Some lay face down,
on a sagging chair, arm of a sofa;
and I had to stop myself thinking -
as most embroiderers do -
that I prefer the wizardry
of the back to the front.
And it wasn’t long before we settled,
as evening light
did amongst a play of bearded irises.
A moment kidnapped. An Indian dusk,
that in this country I’d not thought possible.
A garden in heat, strapped with Canna lilies
growing six feet in six seconds rather than a season.
A breeze off a yellowing broom brushes me back,
and I can see the crook of the old one printing,
Indian shot rattling around a wrist
as she strikes and releases, strikes and releases,
searing white hot, white hot, scattering lizards
from beneath a rock, as purple shadows
creep along the selvedge.
Indian shot are the seeds of the Canna lily, when dried they are used as
beads for jewellery. Eve Simmonds was an embroiderer and friend of Dorothy
Larcher. This was the first time that Dorothy Larcher encountered the work
of Phyllis Barron. The indigo discharge print was called ‘Lizard’ and was
printed from an old French block.
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The book contains numerous plates of Barron and Larcher textiles
which are accompanied by the poems.