London, The Courtauld Gallery

Omega Workshops Limited, founded by artist and critic Roger Fry, is one of Britain’s most fleeting (lasting only 6 years because of the onset of World War I) yet influential and experimental collectives in Britain’s textile and design history. At the workshop’s premises on 33 Fitzroy Square, London, avant-garde artists such as Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, Wyndham Lewis, Frederick Etchells, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska added a fresh, fun and modernist aesthetic to domestic interiors, though they produced all works anonymously bearing only the Greek letter Ω (Omega), upon Fry’s insistence.

The workshops were at once a shared working studio as well as a showroom where the designs were sold directly to the consumer – quite forward-thinking entrepreneurship for the time. Clients included Virginia Woolf, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, W.B. Yeats and E.M. Forster, as well as many other society figures intertwined with the famed Bloomsbury group of bohemian artists and intellectuals, to which the Omega Workshops were both contemporaneous yet distinctly a movement apart.

The exhibit displays a wide range of objects, from hand-knotted rugs, woven wools, painted silks and printed linens to ceramics, furniture and clothing as well as the largest collection of working drawings. One of the highlights of the exhibition is the “Peacock Stole” in chiffon silk painted in primary colors with a bold motif of confronting peacocks, which ultimately remained unsold and has not been available to view for over fifty years.

June 18 through September 2009
The Courtauld Gallery
Somerset House
London, WC2R 0RN
T. +44 20 7848 2526