Magazine article Tate Etc.

My Brother's Brush with Silk

Magazine article Tate Etc.

My Brother's Brush with Silk

Article excerpt

Patrick Heron and Cresta Silks at Tate St Ives - Prior to becoming known for his colourful abstracts, Patrick Heron (1920-1999) flourished as a textile designer. His father, Tom, ran the highly successful Cresta Silks in Welwyn Garden City, and Patrick was for a while its principal designer. To coincide with a new display featuring some of the silks alongside his art, his brother shares his memories of the painter's formative years

My parents became aware of Pat's extraordinary artistic ability when he was very young, and they nurtured it. He and my father were very close, and Pat was always sent to schools that took art seriously. He owed a lot to a brilliant teacher at St George's in Harpenden, who would take him upto London by carto show him a Cézanne at the National Gallery. By that time it was obvious he was going to be an artist, and that's what everything was geared towards.

Asa very young man, he wentthrough several phases: a Cézanne phase, a Braque phase, a Bonnard phase, all of which are evident in his early paintings as he developed a voice. When Cresta Silks moved into a large new building, there was a little spare room that became Pat's studio - he was about only nineteen or twenty. At the same time he was attending the Slade, although I don't think he ever did more than about two days a week. In the post-war years, he was doing designs of a modern sort- he'd moved to London, trying to get established as a painter. There was a huge relationship between his designs and paintings. I think the very way in which colour became central to his art owed a lot to the colour and designs of the textiles produced by Cresta.

It was my dad's suggestion that he should do a design for Cresta. At the age of fourteen he produced Melon (1934), and then two years later, Amaryllis, which was his first repeat pattern, block-printed design. …

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