The Crysède textile company, founded by Alec Walker in 1920, produced block-printed fabrics from its headquarters in Cornwall, first in Newlyn then, from 1925, at St. Ives. The John Bright Collection owns a number of garments made up in these fabrics.
Walker trained in all aspects of silk production at his family’s business in Yorkshire, inheriting his own silk mill at an early age. His strong interest in the arts brought him into contact with the artists’ colony at Newlyn and the Vorticists in London, encouraging him to combine his own creative talent with his knowledge of textile technology to establish the Crysède company. Wanting to ‘carry modern feeling, as expressed in modern design, into the fabrics themselves’ as he put it in an interview for the St. Ives Times, he visited Paris for inspiration in 1923, where the artist and textile designer Raoul Dufy suggested he use his own landscape paintings as the basis for his designs. The printed fabrics were available to purchase by the yard or as garments made up on site either in Crysède’s own shops (three of which were designed in a sleek modernist style by the young architect Wells Coates) or by mail order. In common with the Footprints and Cresta textile printing companies also represented on this website, great importance was placed on the training and well-being of the staff.
Three Crysède outfits from the collection are made of printed linen, which was introduced in 1928 as a fabric appropriate for the increasingly popular leisurewear market. Unlike the silk fabrics, the colourful designs were printed onto natural coloured grounds. (See Related Items).
This outfit of a sleeveless dress and matching jacket is made from this heavy linen printed in three bright autumnal colours – brick red, golden yellow and fawn, with a design not yet identified but clearly based on one of Alec Walker’s paintings of a windswept landscape of trees and fields that evokes the intensity of the late paintings of Van Gogh who Walker admired. (See Van Gogh’s 1890s ‘Wheatfield with Crows’ https://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/en/collection/s0149V1962) In common with our other linen garments, plain linen has been used for the collar, cuffs and borders.