Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft mark ten years since our major redevelopment with an exhibition about the museum’s co-founder Hilary Bourne (1909 – 2004) and Barbara Allen (1903 – 1972), her partner in life and work.
The pair ran an internationally successful textile studio, designing and making a variety of fabrics – tweed for Fortnum & Mason, furnishing fabric for Heal’s and scarves for Liberty. The turning point in their career came in 1951, when they won the competition to design and make textiles for the newly built Festival Hall. They went on to win commissions to make the costumes for the multi-Oscar winning 1959 film Ben-Hur and the interiors of the UK’s first jet planes.
In short, they were two of the most significant textile designers of the modernist period, yet they remain largely unknown – until now.
Double Weave gives space to their story. It speaks to the invisibility of women as leading modernist designers and how women’s intimacy informs creative pursuits.