RESEARCH POINT – Look at 20th / 21st C artists and study their influences.

BRIEF – Look at the work of at least two 20th of 21st C artists etc who have used particular collections for their work and have made a reference to them either as a direct source or in a more thought provoking manner.

Reflect on these collections, and the way they are used and think about the time and place in which the artist was working.

(Peter Blake, Sue Timney, Zandra Rhodes)


Peter Blake became one of the best known British pop artists during the 1950’s. His works of art from this period of art history included imagery taken from advertisements and often including collaged elements. He also produced work that made references to work of other artists.

On the Balcony (1955–57) is an important example of his early work and still remains an iconic piece of British Pop Art. This work shows Blake’s interest in combining images from pop culture with fine art. At first it appears to be a collage but is in fact painted but interestingly he makes a visual reference to an earlier piece of work by another artist. The boy on the left of the composition is holding Édouard Manet‘s “The Balcony”. This work was inspired by a painting by Honoré Sharrer depicting workers holding famous paintings, Workers and Paintings. Blake often referred to the work of other artists with another example being, “The First Real Target” painted in 1961 which depicts an archery target and the title of the work written across the top and both of these details make reference to the work of Jasper Johns target paintings and also those of Kenneth Rowalnd. Blake had also served in the Royal Air Force from 1951 to 1953 so it’s possible he identified with the concentric circles as an image.

Target with plaster casts - JASPER JOHNS 1955. Note the target layout and banner at the top to compare with Peter Blake's target below.

Target with plaster casts – JASPER JOHNS 1955. Note the target layout and banner at the top to compare with Peter Blake’s target below.

The first real target - Peter Blake 1961. Note the simalarities with Jasper Johns "Target with plaster casts"

The first real target – Peter Blake 1961. Note the simalarities with Jasper Johns “Target with plaster casts”

KENNETH ROWLAND - one of the many circle paintings during the 1950's.

KENNETH ROWLAND – one of the many circle paintings during the 1950’s

PETER BLAKE - On the balcony - note the boy on the left holding a picture reference to Edouard Manet's  1868 The Balcony ( see below)

PETER BLAKE – On the balcony – note the boy on the left holding a picture reference to Edouard Manet’s 1868 The Balcony ( see below)


PETER BLAKE – On the balcony – note the boy on the left holding a picture reference to Edouard Manet’s 1868 The Balcony ( see below)
Edouard Manet 1868 - The Balcony

Edouard Manet 1868 – The Balcony

SUE TIMNEY ( as of Timney Fowler)

Sue Timney formed Timney-Fowler ( textile designs) with her then husband Grahame Fowler in 1979 after she graduated from the Royal College of Art. As a design pair they created some iconic graphic prints featuring neo-classical elements in bold monochrome colourways and soon went on to open a shop on the fashionable King’s Road in London in 1985. ( I actually recall visiting this shop sometime in my early 20’s so probably around 1988 onwards but I at the time I didn’t appreciate their position within the design industry but I can recall being overwhelmed by the scale of the images in the work, being so different to other designs at the time. The Roman Heads print was almost life size and the columns print was equally dramatic. Their designs sparked an interest in using black and white “photocopies”in my work and I went on to buy a copy of The Grammar of Ornament but never developed any ideas beyond that really for fear of copryright issues. I also remember buying a value scrap bag of offcuts at the time and making it into a patchwork cushion)

With regards to her influences they appear to have come from, and continue to do so,  from many sources. Clearly the reference to classical architectural elements can be seen in her past work and in a recent Telegraph interview in 2011 this was one of the questions asked of her. Sue Timney explains she is influenced by many areas of art and design history but most notably to me was the work of William de Morgan. I was surprised at this as almost all her work features her “trademark” neo -classical images but looking into this a little deeper I can see the connection.

William Frend De Morgan (16 November 1839 – 15 January 1917) was an English potter and tile designer and was also a lifelong friend of William Morris. The tiles that he designed were often based on medieval designs or Persian patterns using fish, “fantastical” birds and other animals as popular motifs.  I think it’s possible to see the link between the designs of De Morgan and Sue Timney in the following examples.

William de Morgan tile design - now held at the V&A museum

William de Morgan tile design – now held at the V&A museum

Sue Timney - Animals design

Sue Timney – Animals design

Following are two examples of the classic trademark Timney Fowler designs.

timney fowler heads timney fowler ceiling rose

It has also been reported that her background has played a significant part in her design ideas as she travelled extensively as a child as her father was in the Indian Army. Throughout this time she collected hundreds of postcards and labels in scrapbooks – the idea of which she later “developed” in sketchbooks in the form of fabric patterns and colour samples. These collected treasures from her travels have formed a personal collection of imagery from which she has been inspired to work.

In another telegraph interview she explains that over many years, well before she left the RCA she has built up a vast collection of ceramics and has been quoted to say they “make great reference material”. She goes onto say that one of her most treasured items is Fornasetti plate bought for very little money but it wasn’t until some time later that her Fashion Designer friend, Paul Smith pointed out to Sue Timey the similarities in their work.

Fornasetti fabric design

Fornasetti fabric design

So I feel it would be fair to say Sue Timney has been influenced by her own collections, past and present and probably indirectly, and also from Architectural design, which is very clearly referenced in her printed designs.

Although Sue Timney has recently celebrated 30 years with in the industry it is during the 1980/90’s where her style made the most impact. An era which has been described as Post-Modernism, the designer decade where design has been described as “vivid colour, theatricality and exaggeration” and the work of Sue Timney was included in an exhibition at the V&A called Postmodernism – Style and Subversion 1970-1990 documenting Postmodernism as a historical movement. Her designs at that time didn’t feature the vivid colour but certainly were theatrical and represented exaggeration in design terms and in her own words are described as” maximalist” referring to the “full on” design features they hold.

Link to the Telegraph interviews

ZANDRA RHODES – Textile Print designer / Fashion designer

She has been quoted to have said “I love museums, I’m a museum groupie” and as a designer she highly recommends that if you are looking for inspiration then a visit to a museum should be on the visit list and to make visual notes of anything that catches your eye.

In this link there is a very short video of Zandra Rhodes talking about her Elizabethan Slashed Silk Collection of 1971, in which she explains she was inspired by two different museum collections. The shapes were inspired by the sixteenth century Native American costumes from her visit to the Museum of the American Indian in New York, and her use of slashed fabric was influenced by the Elizabethan slashed silks from the same time period, which she had seen at the Victorian and Albert Museum in London






Elizabethan Slashed Silk Collection  – The Native American influence is clear in the print design.

She explains that whilst it was acceptable to have slashed fabric such as a slashed doublet and breeches which were worn by the wealthy and fashionable, during the Elizabethan period in England it wasn’t however something that was acceptable within high street commercial fashion in the 1970s but Zandra Rhodes combined these ideas for her collection.

There are other examples of Zandra Rhodes’s work that have been inspired by museum collections.

Knitted Circle‘ print from 1969, which was inspired by knitting and woollen chain stitch embroidery seen at the Victoria and Albert Museum

zr knitted circle print

Chevron Shawl‘ print from 1970, which was inspired by Victorian fringed shawls.

Zandra Rhodes 1970 coat in 'Chevron Shawl' print[1]

New York and ‘Indian Feathers’ collection of 1970, which was influenced by the intricate costumes in the Museum of the American Indian.

zr indian feathers

I think there is a very good message here to look at different sources of ideas from items that maybe  out of context to what you are designing for and combine them to make something new.

Zandra Rhodes was one of the new wave of British designers who put London at the forefront of the international fashion scene in the 1970s. Her early textile fashion designs were considered outrageous by the traditional British manufacturers with her prints being dramatic and bold yet graceful and feminine.  She was working and designing in the era of Punk when many of the fashion “home altered clothing” statements at the time featured torn clothing and the use of safety pins as “decoration” so it’s possible this was an indirect influence of her designs by incorporating the slashed detail in her designs at the time.  She also made use of reversed seams in the construction of her garments as a feature and in 1977 she made a direct connection to the punk scene by producing a range of jewelled safety pins although intended for the high end of fashion to compliment her flamboyant fashion designs.

A felt roll with a satin label – ‘These are my special beaded safety pins. Yes – real safety pins! Wear them: – as brooches on your collar – Hanging from your necklace or chain – Hanging from your earrings – Pinned to one of my special satin rouleau necklace ties, or just hook them together for a bracelet. Have a lovely time. Zandra Rhodes’.

zr safety pins




This entry was posted in LEVEL 2 - P3 - Working from museums - Project - Storytelling with imagery and text, LEVEL 2 - P3 - Working from museums - Research point - Look at the work of artists, LEVEL 2 - TEXTILES 2 : Contemporary Practice and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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