Working in museums has almost cured me of collecting. I am happy for most things small and large to be in museums rather than in boxes in a cupboard near me.
I used to have many more textile and costume pieces. I was that person picking up all the interesting curtains and scarves in charity shops. But only a few framed pretties have remained in my care. This is one of them, a faded handkerchief. You might well wonder why this one stayed when others went.
Well, it’s a small handkerchief. That always helps – being small. And it’s a lovely subject and simple illustration. It is also, it seems to me, a bit of ephemeral textile. The corner reads ICI Procion. Now Procion dyes (the cold sort you use to do tie dye with) were made and made famous by ICI who patented them in 1954. So far so fair enough that they had a handkerchief made to promote them.
But this feels to me very much like a Lucienne Day design. Maybe it isn’t. But I want it to be. Not necessarily to give it design provenance, though that too. But because Lucienne’s husband Robin Day designed exhibition stands for ICI. And I jolly well love the idea she designed it for one of them. The timing is right and the subject matter is right and the style is right. The sliced pear is drawn in a manner very similar to Lucienne’s beloved leaf patterns that were strewn across her portfolio in the 50s and 60s.
Maybe she designed it as a giveaway on an ICI stand one 1950s wintertime. So people could blow cold red noses on a bit of very classy cotton.