To accompany the Beyond Bloomsbury: Designs of the Omega Workshops 1913-19 exhibition, The Courtauld Gallery education department worked with year 7 and 8 students from Cumberland School in Newham and artist Gilly Hatch to produce hand printed linen bags that were sold in The Courtauld Gallery shop. All proceeds from the bags were then donated to the art department at Cumberland School.
The Omega Workshops were established in 1913 by the painter and influential art critic Roger Fry, the Omega Workshops were an experimental design collective, whose membersincluded Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and other artists of the Bloomsbury Group.
Well ahead of their time, the Omega Workshops brought the experimental language of avant-garde art to domestic design in Edwardian Britain. They were a laboratory of design ideas, creating a range of objects for the home, from rugs and linens to ceramics, furniture and clothing – all boldly coloured with dynamic abstract patterns. No artist was allowed to sign their work, and everything produced by the Workshops bore only Ω (Omega) the last letter in the Greek alphabet.
The students from Cumberland School visited the exhibition to learn about the Omega Workshops and the ideas the artists involved were exploring. The students then designed abstracted patterns which they cut into lino and printed onto linen bags.
The students worked in groups of 3 or 4 and all decisions were made collectively. Like the Omega Workshops these bags are also anonymously stamped, however the students bags are stamped with the letter A, the first letter in the western alphabet.
The bags were on sale in The Courtauld Gallery shop for over 3 months and in total raised £300 which was donated to the art department of Cumberland School. Each bag was unique, hand printed and individually numbered.