The winter art and antique fair, olympia

Guest Blog post by Ashley Gray, Curator & Director Gray MCA

The Post war textile visionaries of Modern Art

Modern British Painting has never been in more demand with prices rising ever higher. This November sees David Bowie’s astonishing and comprehensive collection go under the hammer at Sotheby’s. The works themselves will no doubt command eye-watering prices too. Canny collectors are increasingly finding more affordable, and no less powerful examples of 20th Century works commissioned from the same artists by the post war textile visionaries of Modern Art.


Alistair Morton’s Edinburgh Weavers was the third generation of one of Britain’s greatest textile families. His grandparents had been handloom weavers. His father, a follower of Morris and Ruskin, built up the most influential textile business of the day. Edinburgh Weavers focused on keeping fabric design in step with contemporary living, commissioning some of the most exciting and powerful artists textiles ever seen with designs by Nicholson, Scott, Frink, Vaughn, Vasarely, Rowntree, Reynolds and many more.


Czech émigrés Zika and Lida Asher brought new meaning to Artist’s textiles. Like Morton, Ascher had grown up and worked with textiles, his family ran one of the most prestigious luxury fabric stores in Prague. Forced to flee the Nazi’s, this inspirational young couple took London by storm. It was Henry Moore who first took their eye, Toplolski, Sutherland, Trevelyan, Piper and Hepworth soon followed. The net widened with the addition of Matisse, Calder, Derain, Cocteau and Berard. The Ascher’s greatest innovation was the ‘Ascher Squares’. Stunning Silk scarves framed and presented as Art for the home which caused a stir worldwide.


Morton and Ascher ensured that Modern British Artists were alive and well in peoples homes. Today these rare and powerful textiles are sought after by collectors and top interior designers worldwide as key examples of the wider works of the artist’s of the last century. What is Modern has never been more Contemporary.

The BADA Lecture: The Post War Textile Visionaries of Modern Art

Tuesday 1st November at 12:30-13:30.

Winter Art & Antiques Fair, Olympia

31 October – 6 November



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