Enid Marx at the House of Illustration in London
We were thrilled to work with the House of Illustration on the Enid Marx exhibition mounted to coincide with the release of Alan Powers' biography of Marco, that we've mentioned before. We've loaned them a few items and printed cards and prints from Marx's original blocks for their shop. In addition, curator Olivia Ahmad and film-maker Giorgia Polizzi came to Incline and filmed Graham printing and talking about Marco as part of a short film running in the gallery during the exhibition. (See below for an unedited excerpt)
Unable to make it to London for the opening, we sent long-time Enid Marx enthusiast and friend of Incline Press Jane Audas our tickets to take our place and report back. Below are her thoughts and photographs which we use courtesy of the House of Illustration:
Enid Marx is due her due. A new exhibition Enid Marx: Print, Pattern and Popular Art at House of Illustration in London, and book, are going to be the start of her next and widest revival. In the book and the show, Marx is championed by Alan Powers, a person with a seemingly unending output on all things design historical. He is the co-curator (with Olivia Ahmad) of this exhibition.
The House of Illustration is putting on some great shows and building its reputation as a champion of the illustrative and graphic arts. The Marx exhibition should be a sleeper hit for them - it has all the ingredients: illustration, graphics, textiles, books and ephemera. And it’s about a pioneering woman industrial designer and illustrator. There still aren’t enough of them going around, never mind ones that worked so successfully and have such a tasty back catalogue.
There is a somewhat intangible English interwar (and after) design eccentricity that Marx and her contemporaries Ravilious and Bawden exemplify. It’s based on their love of traditional folk art forms, used to great effect as subject matter across the different media they all worked in. Both men have numerous books about them in print and several exhibitions currently touring or just opened. Marx, not so much. Yet Marx is every bit as good an artist as Ravilious - her woodblock prints in this exhibition show that - and she was the more versatile designer. Where Ravilious designed some few textiles from a graphics perspective, Marx's design sense was rooted in textiles. She understood construction and designed glorious moquette weaves for London Transport, as well as vivid early block printed lengths, and during the Second World War was responsible for designing lots of utility fabrics. With these, her patterns seemed never to have been limited by the restrictions of the war-time conditions in which she designed them.
This exhibition is touring so it might come a bit nearer to wherever you are. If not, a trip to London to see this is something to treat yourself to. The House of Illustration is just a hop and a skip behind Kings Cross station and is housed in a handsome Victorian building designed by the same architect. The exhibition is nicely paced across several rooms there. With so many wonderful pieces by Marx in this exhibition, both large and small, you don’t quite know where to look. There is also a video about Marx to watch (Graham Moss is in that one) and then some nice Marx things to buy in the shop (some Incline Press goodies there too). All in all, it’s a pattern- and print-lovers not-to-be-missed exhibition. And what a satisfactory thing it is that Enid Marx gains some of the attention she has long deserved.
Thank you, Jane, for being our eyes and ears. We are looking forward to seeing for ourselves when we visit London for the House of Illustration Summer Fair on 30 June. Hope to see everyone there to hear your thoughts about the exhibition. Finally, to end the post here's the unedited clip courtesy of Olivia Ahmad the show's co-curator, and film-maker Giorgia Polizzi who spent an enjoyable day at the Press asking questions and working their magic.