Before an orange-red curtain, This Interesting and Wonderful Factory and Civic Centre/City Centre play silently. These are films, made by Katie Schwab during her 18-month design residency at Plymouth College of Art. The film to our left is about Cryséde, a St. Ives textile factory that made silk designs and offered industrial work to women in the area. To the right, the film Civic Centre/City Centre, explores the use of space and design in local buildings. In both films, Schwab introduces us to influential patterns, such as block-prints and a faux pebble-dashed floor in Plymouth Council House.
Akin to the cosy arrangement of a living room, or a cinema; three rugs and an array of stools sit before the screens. The stools are made of brilliant red and yellow cushions, perched and upholstered onto slim black metal legs. Once intended for Schwab’s previous work, the stools have now been reconfigured as part of this ‘Working Building’.
The rugs lay like large, lively rectangles; each unique with zestful and abstract patterns that implore us to touch, and lay across them. Jagged blue triangles and dark lozenge shapes are softened by interlacing waves and daring red circles; and one rug, of mostly white, black and blue has been speckled with coloured flecks that bear a likeness to other rounded shapes across the room, on the wallpaper, and on the relief tiles.
‘Double Quilt’ hangs in a firework-like like a burst of colour, that embodies and celebrates old materials, and past ideas. The making of the quilt spans from its first use in St Ives to its current use in Plymouth - acting as a symbolic wrapping up of the exhibition and as a memorable, vibrant goodbye. We leave Schwab's 'Working Building'; having learned, shared and relished in her designs and the inspiration behind them.
Guest blog by Megan Williams. Megan is a freelance writer specialising in art and culture, working and living in Plymouth.