Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Very Sanderson: 150 years of English decoration - New exhibition at the FTM 19th March – 13th June 2010

The Fashion and Textile Museum is pleased to announce details of its collaboration with Sanderson - one of the world’s most innovative and pioneering fabrics and furnishings companies - as it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2010.

The work of this most quintessentially English company will be showcased in a new exhibition which runs from 19th March – 13thJune 2010 and will take visitors on a tour de force of 150 years of English decoration.

When Arthur Sanderson set up his business in 1860 as an importer of French wallpapers he could scarcely have imagined that a century later it would have grown into a company with a landmark London showroom serving an international market. One hundred and fifty years since it started Sanderson is still going strong today.

However, the exhibition charts not just the Sanderson story, but the social history of a country reflected through domestic furnishings and the changing social mores of society.

For example, Sanderson was a beneficiary of the building boom in Britain in the 1880s that led to greater demand for affordable wallpaper and the company was quick to take advantage of this by expanding its range of machine-printed papers. Adapting to new trends has been a key theme throughout Sanderson’s history and is central to its longevity, as is its expansion into printed textiles and other decorative items.

During its illustrious history the company has amassed a vast collection of wallpapers and textiles representing the many changing faces and fads of interior decoration. Its archive incorporates examples by A W M Pugin, Charles Eastlake, William Morris and many other designers whose tastes influenced generations.

Sanderson itself bought, commissioned and produced products by key figures whose names read like a who’s who of the art and design world: from Christopher Dresser, the Silver Studio and C F A Voysey in the early years, to postwar artists and designers such as  Pat Albeck, Lucienne Day, Pablo Picasso and John Piper. Examples of their work will be shown as part of this new exhibition which is full of surprises, to fascinate and inform those whose tastes run from the Arts & Crafts style, jazzy Moderne, fifties' Festival designs and Pop patterns, to decidedly contemporary art and décor.

Renowned textile writer and academic Mary Schoeser, who has curated the exhibition, said ‘Even those who think they know the Sanderson story will be surprised to find just how great the company’s contribution was, not only in matters of design, but by being in the forefront of technological developments. They were even among the first, nearly a century ago, to produce booklets with colour plates illustrating their paints, papers and fabrics.’

The exhibition is accompanied by a lavishly illustrated book published by Thames & Hudson and a series of talks and events will also take place.

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