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Auckland Museum Applied Arts Collection of Printed Textiles
The breakthrough that focused him on textiles was when he was invited to curate part of 'The 1950s Show', at the Auckland Art Gallery from November 1992 to May 1993.
Through curator Peter Shaw, he discovered the work of May Smith: "Before her death she'd given fabric samples to Peter and he passed these on to me and they're now in the Auckland Museum collection."
"It made me realise that fabrics are so fragile. They get washed and they get worn and used so they fade quickly and anything that survives really is valuable. It was the right time to do this research because some of these designers from the '40s and '50s are still around.
"A number of them were taught at Elam in the '20s and '30s where they were being trained in commercial art, ticket-writing and newspaper advertisements. Archie Fisher, the head of Elam, was very keen on printing and graphic art and all the students were taught block printing."
"May Smith was an interesting character. She and her husband Philip Hardcastle moved to Gisborne where they set up a factory printing textiles but almost nothing is known about it. Huge amounts of work have been lost."
"I went to visit Blanche Wormald in her studio and she hadn't printed for years and years but in her rubbish bin I found a piece of test fabric. Blanche said: "Oh yes, I had a big clean up and threw it out." It had around 20 or 30 images on it that she'd block-printed. It was a real find."
"Louise Tilsley was another woman artist who was at Elam and her colleagues said she did a lot of printing. She was in an article in the Woman's Weekly in the 1960s about the ex-Elam artists who became known as the Rutland group."
"William Mason was an important artist and he helped shift my interest in fabric toward being a major preoccupation. He's the one who also did TV backdrops for shows like C'Mon and Happen inn."
Douglas is currently working on a show about Dutch artist/designer Frank Carpay who came to work as a ceramic painter for Crown Lynn in the '50s and then moved into textiles -promoting a range of beachwear etc. during the '60s.
Information from lloyd-Jenkins catalogue notes and interview with Jean Clarkson in May 2002