In September 1977, Fraser Taylor enrolled as a full-time student on the general first year course at The Glasgow School of Art (GSA). While at school he had attended Saturday drawing classes in the Mackintosh Building. During first year, in the Blythswood Square Building, Fraser formed a group of friends including fellow student David Band. Through socialising and working this group connected to Glasgow’s wider creative scene. The Haldane Building and Victoria Café were important social spaces. The Griffin, Nico’s, The Rock Garden, Meistroes, Manhattan and Bennetts were regular haunts. The Citizens Theatre and Glasgow’s radical hairdressers were also part of this network.
Towards the end of first year, students elected to enter a department. Originally, Fraser wanted to study painting, but both Fraser and David were drawn to printed textiles, due to the department’s ethos, vibrant studios and dynamic work. Based in the Newbery Tower, led by Jimmy Cosgrove with tutors Liz Munro and Chuck Mitchell, printed textiles encouraged experimentation, image-making through drawing, and exploration of print processes across art and design contexts.
Printed textiles organised the annual GSA Fashion Show, a highlight of the social calendar, involving students from across GSA. Glasgow’s music scene was thriving and David produced artwork for bands.
After graduating, Fraser and David moved to London to take up places at the Royal College of Art (RCA). The work hard, play hard attitude continued. The college bar, The Coach and Horses Covent Garden and the clubs of Soho were regularly frequented.
As they worked towards their Masters show, Fraser and David teamed up with fellow printed textile students, Helen Manning and Brian Bolger, and decided to exhibit together. The RCA show, in June 1983, launched ‘The Cloth’ and their expressive, bold and painterly textiles became an overnight success. Individually, Fraser and David created paintings and album artwork; Brian worked for Betty Jackson; Helen made garments for trend-setting stores, BOY and Demob.
As The Cloth, the group sold work to numerous companies including Paul Smith, Liberty of London, Warehouse, M&S, Nicole Miller, Calvin Klein and Prinz. Their clothing label sold through prestigious outlets in the UK and overseas. Lynn Franks PR promoted The Cloth and sold their clothing collections. They also worked across disciplines, for example, they regularly exhibited paintings, produced illustrations, graphics and for interiors.
In 1987, The Cloth disbanded, so each member could pursue their own creative interests. For Fraser, this allowed a return to and focus on painting. After a series of successful residences and exhibitions he moved to Chicago, where he continued working as an artist and designer, alongside teaching at the School of Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Upon returning to the UK, Fraser donated his collection to GSA’s Archives and Collections and became an Honorary Professor.
It has been possible to catalogue, digitise and research Fraser’s collection due to funding from The Textile Society and The Leverhulme Trust.
Revisiting the archive has inspired Fraser to produce a new body of work, Haxton.