Online Learning Resources – Beyond Bloomsbury: Designs from the Omega Workshops 1913-19
Established in 1913 by the painter and influential art critic Roger Fry, the Omega Workshops were an experimental design collective, whose members included Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and other artists of the Bloomsbury Group. The exhibition united The Courtauld’s uniquely important collection of Omega working drawings with the finest examples of the Workshops’ printed fabrics, Cubist-inspired rugs and splendidly painted textiles, as well as ceramics and furniture to explore the Omega Workshops’ radical approach to modern design.Visit the main exhibition page
Listen to a series of podcasts giving detailed insights into working for the Omega Workshops and being an artist at the time
Since the war came as a bolt out of the blue to all but a few voices crying in the wilderness, Germany and England were full of each other’s holiday makers, so a sort of moratorium of three or four-days was arranged to give them all time to get home.
Winifred Gill to Duncan Grant, September 1966.
Winfred Gill (1891–1981) is the unsung heroine of the Omega Workshops. As well as producing designs for the Omega, she also played a key role in running the workshops. After the Jubilee reunion of the Omega Workshops in the 1960’s, Winifred Gill began corresponding by letter with Duncan Grant, who was also a significant member of the group. The letters covered many things from Gill’s memories of the artists involved in the workshops to the experience of living through the First World War and how it affected everything they undertook.
At the time of writing the letters, Winifred Gill was living with her niece, Dr Margaret Bennett, in an East London general practice. True to many close family members they share a very similar voice. Dr Bennett recounts that patients telephoning the surgery would often mistake Gill for her, much to the patients frustration and their amusement.
Below are recordings taken from two of the letters written by Winifred Gill to Duncan Grant and read out by Dr Bennett, to whom we are very grateful. The recordings were made in the house the letters were written.