Eric Ravilious’ ‘Furlongs’, a wonderful painting of his friend Peggy Angus’ house revived my interest in her work, which I hadn’t seen since my student days at Camberwell when we were introduced to lino cutting and mono prints. Her house featured in ‘Furlongs’ was often full with artist friends such as Ravilious, Edward Bawden and John Piper to name but a few. It was just down the road from the Omega group’s Charleston Farmhouse and although apparently the two groups didn’t mix it’s amazing to think of that many artists within a 5-mile proximity, both exploring the South Downs as inspiration for work.
Eric Ravilious, Furlongs (1934), Image courtesy of The Bookroom Art Press
Peggy Angus’ work explored the repeating tile pattern. Using potato and lino, she made designs that combined modernity with traditional methods, the results were both beautifully simplistic and yet current in shape and form.
Peggy Angus, Ceramic Tile Design, 1950s
A student with Ravilious and Edward Bawden at the Royal College of Art, she was influenced by her tutor Paul Nash who encouraged to explore a range of techniques such as lino and wood engraving. I would recommend looking at Peggy’s tile designs many of which were designed for new schools during the 50’s. It’s also worth noting that working with Carter’s of Poole, she developed a new process of silkscreen printing onto tiles.
Peggy Angus, Ceramic Tile Design 1951
Peggy Angus also produced bespoke, hand printed wallpapers, which were printed with lino blocks onto wallpaper lining paper using household emulsion paint (which, by the way, is still a really cheap and quick way of making a print! I have done this in the past for my Leaf and Lily wallpapers). She won Sanderson’s competition to mark the company’s centenary both Cole & Son and the Wall Paper Manufacturers Ltd bought her. Ideally though, Angus preferred to produce her own work as she felt that the art of making and the effects that the “hand” made were irreplaceable.
Sadly, her Camden studio and house, which was adorned in her wallpapers and prints, were pulled down by the council. It would have made a wonderful public research and reference library, something that is lacking in the textile world. Instead, there is plenty of information at Middlesex University’s Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture.
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