Curator Talk – Althea McNish: Colour is Mine, for Macmillan Cancer Support

Thursday 30th June

Curatorial talk on Althea McNish: Colour is Mine, a landmark retrospective of one of the UK’s most innovative textile artists.


Join exhibition curators Rowan Bain, William Morris Gallery and Rose Sinclair, Goldsmiths University for an insight into the exhibition Althea McNish: Colour is Mine. This hybrid talk (both in-person and online) will showcase extensive new research, and discuss McNish’s extraordinary career, her transformative impact on mid-century design and her enduring influence today.

Althea McNish: Colour is Mine is a landmark retrospective at the William Morris Gallery (untill 11 Sep 2022) exploring one of the UK’s most innovative textile artists and the first designer of Caribbean descent to achieve international recognition.

Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, McNish (1924-2020) moved to the UK in 1950, completing a postgraduate textiles degree at the Royal College of Art and rising to prominence as a Black female designer. On graduating McNish began designing bestselling furnishing and fashion fabrics for iconic firms including Liberty, Dior, Heal’s and Hull Traders, for whom she created one of her most famous patterns, Golden Harvest, in 1959. As her career progressed McNish took on major interior design projects and mural commissions around the world, as well as creating wallpapers for leading companies.

McNish’s painterly designs incorporated natural botanical forms from Britain and the Caribbean, using a riotous colour palette that overturned the staid rules of mid-century British textile design. Her technical mastery gave her the freedom to create ever more complex prints. “Whenever printers told me it couldn’t be done, I would show them how to do it,” she said. “Before long, the impossible became possible.”