Mary White (textile designer)

Mary White (born in Margate, Kent in 1930) trained as a textile designer and studied textile design at the Thanet School of Art and Crafts. She was one of the most iconic textile print designers of the 1950s.[1]

Contents

Career

Mary enjoyed a huge reputation as one of the leading fabric designers of the 1950s, and later became a teacher. Her work could be found in homes across the world as well as in cabins aboard the RMS Queen Mary and at Heathrow Airport. Her unique creations are now undergoing a resurgence of interest among the fashion conscious.

Mary was designing during the same period as Lucienne Day. To create her memorable designs Mary drew on the work of William Morris, books of flowers and the countryside where she grew up and has lived throughout her life. In turn her work has influenced leading fashion icons such as Mary Quant, Laura Ashley and Sir Terence Conran.

Mary created hundreds of designs in her career, which she gave up to raise her family. Some of her most famous creations such as Coppice, Cottage Garden and Zinnia were best sellers in leading outlets including Liberty and Heals.

The design Cottage Garden was one of Mary’s most successful designs. It was made available by Heals in 1955, at a price of 10s 9d per yard, coming onto the market at a time when a greater number of people than ever were accepting “contemporary” design.

Many of Mary’s designs are exhibited in museums all over the world including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Warner Textile Archive [1] in Essex and Whitworth Art Gallery [2] The Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester] in Manchester.

Collectors of fifties fabric continue to collect Mary White material. Mary's designs continue to be included in books on the subject of 1950s textile design such as 20th Century Pattern Design by Lesley Jackson, design curator, historian and author.

Mary was also involved in Thanet Pottery, having also studied pottery at Thanet School of Art. Thanet Pottery was a collaboration between Mary (then using her married name of Mary Dening) and her brother, David White. Thanet Pottery made hand painted slip cast earthenware pottery and their items were sold to High Street chains in the early 1960s. These items continue to be very collectible.

Recent examples of Mary's work include men's shirts produced for Pigletchops (with her son, Jeremy Dening and daughter-in-law Sarah Dening, as well as retro print bikinis which still sell via Shop on Your Doorstep [3]

Mary's famous Coppice print was reproduced as a rug and sold in John Lewis as recently as 2010 [4]

Family

Mary was married in 1951 to Claude Dening. They had three children and thirteen grandchildren.

References

  • Jackson, Lesley: "Twentieth-century Pattern Design: Textile & Wallpaper Pioneers", page 99 and page 103. Princeton Architectural Press, 2002. ISBN 978-1840003710.
  • Fiell, Charlotte and Peter: "Decorative Art 50s", page 294. Taschen, 2008. ISBN 978-3836503105.

External links


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