London exhibition celebrates Grantham-born textile designer

Spitalfields silk with floral taffeta by Anna Maria Garthwaite.  The silk has a yellow cannele ground and is brocaded with coloured silks and silver and silver gilt thread with sprays of flowers. These include rosebuds in shades of pink and crimson and exotic blooms in blues, mauves and silver thread.

Spitalfields silk with floral taffeta by Anna Maria Garthwaite. The silk has a yellow cannele ground and is brocaded with coloured silks and silver and silver gilt thread with sprays of flowers. These include rosebuds in shades of pink and crimson and exotic blooms in blues, mauves and silver thread.

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A festival will celebrate the life and work of Anna Maria Garthwaite, who was born near Grantham and went on to design Spitalfields silks when she moved to London and lived with the large exiled community of Huguenot weavers.

Anna Maria was born in 1690 in Harston, the daughter of the Rev Ephraim Garthwaite (1647–1719) of Grantham. She went to live in Princes Street (now Princelet Street) in the silk-weaving district of Spitalfields, east of the City of London, in 1728.

A silk floral design by Grantham-born Anna Maria Garthwaite.

A silk floral design by Grantham-born Anna Maria Garthwaite.

She created more than 1,000 designs for woven silks over the next three decades. Some 874 of her original designs in watercolour from the 1720s through to 1756 have survived and are now in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum. She became known for creating vivid floral designs for silk fabrics hand-woven in Spitalfields.

To honour Anna Maria and the Huegenots, and mark the 250th anniversary of her death, the festival called The Huguenots of Spitalfields will be held from April 8 to 21. It includes walks, lectures and other events .

Exhibition organiser Charlie de Wet said: “The sheer beauty of Anna Maria’s work was lauded both here and in France, because when woven it was so botanically accurate, that you could recognise the variety of flower. Her fabrics were widely exported - many to colonial America.

“We are raising funds to create a Huguenot memorial so that their contribution and Anna Maria’s, in this historic area of London, is never forgotten.”

For a full programme of events during the festival go to www.huguenotsofspitalfields.org