The London transport museum proved a huge hit with both my children and me. They enjoyed the freedom of playing on and exploring busses and trams and I was reminded of the work of the very brilliant textile designer Enid Marx. I’d heard of Enid, I knew she had worked with Phyllis Barron and Dorothy Larcher in their Hampstead studio, but I was unfamiliar with her own work, particularly the work she did for the London Passenger Transport Board in the 1940’s. At the time she was known for unusual geometric and abstract designs. The Transport Board asked her to produce a hard wearing, cotton velvet seating fabric, known as a Moquette. The Moquette was to be used on the seats of buses and tube trains. Her timeless designs in her palette of spicy colours are still in use today and are reported to be the work she is most proud of.
Reading about Enid Marx’s career spanning the war years and beyond is truly fascinating, she designed pattern paper for Curwen press, designed book jackets for many authors and publishers. She wrote and illustrated her own books, painted notable buildings that were under threat from German bombings. There were highly prestigious commissions, for printed upholstery fabrics. Collaborations with furniture makers and other designers. She was well known for involvement in the Utility Furniture Scheme, a scheme set up to help people who had suffered bombings during the war. She was a master of many printing techniques including but not limited to woodcuts, engravings and linocuts. She designed the stamps to mark the queen’s coronation and later again a set of stamps in the 1970’s. She worked her pattern magic on packaging, greeting cards, posters, book jackets and calendars for London Transport and other companies such as Shell Oil. She was one of the first ever women to be named a Royal Designer for Industry and instead of retiring in her mid-60’s, she took a lead position at Croydon College of Art. The London House of Illustration, held a landmark exhibition in 2018 celebrating Enid’s work, sad to have missed that one! I have read that there is a collection of her work at Compton Verney, near Stratford-Up-Avon, which is on my hit list this summer and the Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft have some of Enid’s work in their Women’s Work Exhibition (4 May 2019 – 13 October 2019)