After Bloomsbury: Rugs From The Omega Workshops, 1913-1916
May 3 - June 24, 2012
In an inspired collaboration between Christopher Farr and The Courtauld Gallery, five hand-crafted rugs based on original designs by the Omega Workshops will be unveiled at Somerset House in London. Visitors to the Great Arch Lobby will encounter extraordinarily contemporary-looking rugs displayed alongside their original designs of nearly 100 years ago.
The short-lived Omega Workshops marked one of the most creative moments in the history of modernist craft and design in Britain. Founded by the artist and influential critic Roger Fry in 1913, the Omega Workshops was a laboratory of radical design ideas involving many of the most avant-garde artists of the day, notably Fry’s young friends from the Bloomsbury Group, Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell who became co-directors of the company.
The Courtauld Gallery owns the largest surviving group of Omega drawings, about a hundred, bequeathed by Fry’s daughter Pamela Diamand in 1958. The majority of these are for rugs and reveal much about working practices at Omega. However, only a handful of Omega rugs was ever made, probably by the Wilton Carpet company which was one of the few British carpet manufacturers open during the War. A rare survival is the Lady Hamilton Rug in the Victoria and Albert Museum. The new rugs at Somerset House were hand-knotted in Konya in central Turkey, to which some of the earliest examples of hand-weaving can be traced, and are made using the finest handspun Anatolian yarn, rich in lanolin due to the extreme winter conditions.
This dynamic textile art will resonate as powerfully with collectors today as it did nearly a century ago. The five rugs, each produced in a limited edition of 15, are for sale at prices ranging from £5,000 to £15,000.