The Gleneden Post-War Design Archive
20th Century Textile Design
The Gleneden Post-War Design Archive is a collection of textile design sheets mostly drawn in pencil and painted with gouache paint, conceived to aid commercial production of jacquard woven cloth. They were last commercially owned by Collins and Aikman Automotive Fabric Ltd, but individual designs previously belonged to companies such as Courtaulds Textiles, Sundour Fabrics and Gleneden Textiles. The majority of the
artworks appear to have been produced between the formation of Gleneden in 1955 and its demise as a manufacturer of furnishing fabrics in 1990 when the then owners Courtaulds moved furnishing production to a factory at Silsden, West Yorkshire). Around 1000 design sheets are stored at Heritage Quay Archive at the University of Huddersfield.
The designs are varied in appearance, the images are often located on A1 (594 x 841 mm) sheets, they feature imagery of flowers and fauna, geometric and ornamental patterns, inspired by amongst other things, stained glass, illuminated manuscripts, renaissance and Elizabethan imagery as well as shapes, styles and approaches seen in the contemporary art movements of the era.
The designs have been drawn by numerous designers. They would have been commissioned by the mill that was doing the weaving or bought in to relate to a design ’theme’. This theme would have emerged from three possible sources, either a direct request from the customer via the sales department, a new concept selected from an atelier, or an internally generated idea by the design staff. In most cases a brief was set which reflected an interpretation of a conversation with the customer. The mill structure in which the Gleneden designs were drawn was one where a client effectively commissioned the weaver. The design and designer were required to keep the looms occupied; the production of the cloth was often considered to be more important than the creative design process. Consequently, the designs bear a company stamp rather than an artist’s signature.
Gleneden opens a window into the textile manufacturing world of this period. The designs were created to be a mechanism in the production of commercial cloth. They now provide an opportunity for further collaborative artistic activities. They can also be useful to help promote discussion on topics such as the history of woven textiles, the aesthetics of mid 20th Century homes, or when comparing the production methods of textiles past and present.
Conversations around pattern, texture, marginalia, colour, or context can all emerge from an encounter with this archive. To discuss how Gleneden could be used as part of an art, research, or teaching project or to express an interest in working collaboratively, please enquire via email.