Peggy Angus: Designer, Teacher, Painter, Towner, Eastbourne

Designer, painter, educator, mentor and social campaigner, Peggy Angus (1904 -1993) could be considered one of the 20th century’s most overlooked creative practitioners. Peggy Angus: Designer, Teacher, Painter presents Angus’ artistic and industrial practice in the context of Furlongs, her Sussex home which was once described as “the matrix of much strange and inventive creation”.

Although Angus’ early career was in figurative painting, she became best known for her Modernist industrial design and was commissioned to produce extensive decorative tile murals for significant post war buildings including Gatwick Airport’s original buildings, East London’s Lansbury Lawrence School and Glyndwr University in Wrexham.

Due to Angus’ success in tile design, she began experimenting with hand-made wallpaper design, translating her tile patterns into hand-cut lino blocks to create repeat prints. She went on to develop a distinctive range of designs influenced by the organic, Celtic designs and the art of gypsies, whilst also referencing William Morris; this work eventually grew into a business producing hand-printed wallpapers to commission.

Peggy Angus: Designer, Teacher, Painter focuses not only upon Angus’ artistic and design-based practice, but also studies her roles as artistic mentor and social justice campaigner and her personal life history in the context of her bohemian Sussex home. Furlongs, the artist’s rural 1930s home, became a gathering-place for many others including Eric and Tirzh Ravilious, Edward Bawden, Percy Horton, John and Myfanwy Piper, Olive Cook and Edwin Smith; this has led to an intriguing, chaotic interior comparable to that of the nearby Charleston Farmhouse, home of the Bloomsbury set.

Taking inspiration from Furlongs, wallpapers recently hand printed from Angus’ original blocks especially for this exhibition line the gallery, and are accompanied by endless tile designs, Angus’ sketchbooks, early illustrations and photographs; films, furniture and portraits of friends and family; and landscape paintings of Sussex and Scotland. Displayed alongside Angus’ prints will also be a new commission designed exclusively for Towner by her former business partner Di Hall.

Peggy Angus: Designer, Teacher, Painter, until 22 September, Towner, Devonshire Park, College Road, Eastbourne, BN21 4JJ.

1. Tile mural for Brussels World Fair, 1958, Peggy Angus, courtesy of Towner and the artist.

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