The Textiles Collection: University College for the Creative Arts at Farnham, http://www.ucreative.ac.uk
The Footprints workshop was set up in 1925 by Gwen Pike and Elspeth Little in Durham Wharf, Hammersmith and supported by Celandine Kennington the wealthy second wife of the artist Eric Kennington. Gwen Pike had previously worked with Claude Lovat Fraser of Fraser,Trevelyan and Wilkinson who was behind most of the block printing enterprises of the time.The name, Footprints, was chosen because of the foot pressure used to create most of the block prints.
The workshop became the longest-lasting block printing enterprise of the 1920s and continued, despite the break up of the Pike-Little partnership until after the war. Joyce Clissold arrived in 1927 and continued Footprints when Pike and Little split. At its height, Footprints had two central London shops and represented artists Paul Nash, Eric Kennington and Marion Dorn.
Footprints used a much wider colour range than Barron and Larcher. Block printed fabric was very much the desire of the Avant-garde and influential.These fabrics were exclusive and expensive with the average price of hand printed fabrics, at 12 shillings per yard, while manufacturers such as Warners could produce printed textiles for 6 shillings per yard. Clients included Deitmar Blow, the architect to the Duke of Westminster, and the stylish and fashionable decorator Syrie Maugham.
Powers, Alan, 'Modern Block Printed Textiles', London, 1992. pp. 46-7, 61.
Tanner, Robin, 'Phyllis Barron 1890-1964 Dorothy Larcher 1884-1952 A record of their block-printed
textiles:Volume One', Pg 23.
The archives of both Footprints and Barron and Larcher are useful resources to obtain further information:
Paul Nash writes in The Listener, 27th April, 1932,
‘For many years, would-be employers of designers [in England] have laboured under the odd superstition that artists with reputations as painters will not condescend to undertake commissions except for paintings.
It would be interesting to discover how this superstition arose; most manufacturers hold this today. I was led to ponder these things on first seeing an exhibition of Mr Allan Walton’s textiles some weeks ago. Mr Walton is a painter and it is to painters rather than to craftsmen that he has applied for textile designs. Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell, Keith Baynes and Bernard Adeney form the nucleus of this experiment.That experiment has been completely successful within the
limits imposed, and its limits are now being extended. The reason for its success, by no meansonly an aesthetic one, lies in the fact, I believe, that Mr Walton has faced his problem squarely and practically without any oblique high mindedness.
He first made certain of an appropriate and economical material and secured a block cutter able to interpret instead of copy the vagaries of a painter’s technique… The result has been a number of excellent fabrics of original design which can be bought at a reasonable price…
It is hoped this industry organised by an artist for artists will succeed where our ‘business’ men
have not even attempted to fail.’
Jackson, Lesley, ‘Twentieth Century Pattern Design’, London, 2002, Pp. 86- 89.
Hayes Marshall, H. G, ‘British Textiles Designers Today’, London, 1939.
Causey, Andrew, ‘Paul Nash:Writings on Art’, London, 2000.