The Whitworth in Manchester has been a favourite destination since I lived not far away as an art student, and continues to provide interesting exhibitions. Now with even more space thanks to the recent impressive extension, they currently have an eye-catching room full of ’60s and 70s fabrics from Heals designed by Barbara Brown (though if you relied on their website you’d never guess how fab it is!). Barbara was spotted at art college by a scout from the company and offered work designing fabrics for them from 1959 onwards.
The gallery is set up to allow full length drops of the fabric, some as much as 25′ long so you get the full impact of the designs, many of which the Whitworth collected at the time. There’s hardly a design we wouldn’t want to use for curtains in our ’60s bungalow, so much more interesting than just about anything on sale today. And all manufactured and printed in Britain too. The samples reveal the fabric edges, with the manufacturing and design credits printed on, something you wouldn’t normally see once made up.
Well worth a visit if you’re into post-War design. They’ve also got a couple of rooms full of Andy Warhol prints and paintings as well, so I was really spoilt for choice.
The downside to the Whitworth is there is no dedicated parking for the gallery, so you have to take pot luck in the side street which is often quite busy, plus the council have cleverly barred all traffic from the main road permanently, so you risk a ticket if you make a wrong turn. I got caught here last year trying to get to a concert at the Uni. so be prepared!