Enid Marx – Designer

You’re at the Royal College of Art in London studying wood engraving and painting in the 1920s. Your wood engraving tutor, Sir Frank Short, despite you having studied drawing, painting and textile design at The Central School of Art & Design thinks you can’t draw and won’t allow you in his class. Your fellow student, Edward Ravilious, sneaks you in after hours to teach you all he has learned that day. You fail to get your diploma because the RCA thinks your work is too abstract. And yet, despite that, you go on to become one of one of England’s most highly regarded textile designer, printmaker, painter and illustrator.

‘Don’t listen to the naysayers’ would appear to be the moral of the story.

Arguably, Enid was most famous as a textile designer. Her work, using simple patterns that were often geometric or simple organic shapes, blended modernist elements with motifs taken from British folk art.  In 1937, she was commissioned to create what became probably her most famous work – customised seating fabrics for London Underground. The brief was to create very hard-wearing, woven “moquette” fabrics. ‘The design was to look fresh at all times, even after bricklayers had sat on it’. We doubt there’s ever been too many design briefs that have included that instruction…


At the end of May, The House of Illustration at 2 Granary Square, London, N1C 4BH is hosting an exhibition with 150 pieces of her work, many of which have never been shown in public before.

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