Collection Highlight

Printed Cotton Handkerchief

Sylvia Chalmers was a Scottish designer who studied at GSA in the late 1940s. She moved to London in 1951, where she designed fabrics for Heal’s. She won three medals for her textile designs shown at the Milan Triennale in 1954. In 1955 she founded her textile printing company in Scotland, Tuar Fabrics, which she ran for over 20 years, often selling her textile designs for fashion use to Elizabeth Eaton. In 1976 Chalmers purchased Blacknest House at Thornhill in Dumfriesshire and converted the outbuildings into a design and production complex.

GSA hold work by Chalmers related to her time as a student, designs and sketches, magazine clippings, calligraphy samples, exhibition programmes, photographs, textiles and designs for products including aprons, tote bags, table clothes, tea towels, kerchiefs, curtains and banners. This is one such example of a screen-printed cotton handkerchief, one of ten handkerchiefs by Chalmers held in the Archives and Collections.

In recent years, twelve of Chalmers’ textile designs from the 1950s and 1960s have been digitally reproduced by the Centre for Advanced Textiles Classic Textiles range at GSA, making her designs available to buy once more. Some designs were also featured and available to buy in the Pioneers of Post-war Pattern Exhibition at GSA in 2017. You can read about this on our blog here.