Pattern to Print: The story of David Evans, Crayford’s silk printers

Pattern to Print is the latest exhibition to open at Bexley’s historic Hall Place, which tells the story of the area’s roots within the silk industry spanning three centuries.

From the River Cray, which meanders its way through the parkland of Hall Place to the regal mulberry trees in its grounds once thought to have provided food for silkworms, all have played their part in the areas rich heritage in the silk industry.

It was Augustus Applegath, a prolific inventor of the time, who founded the print works at nearby Crayford in 1826 and perfected the printing of fabrics using curved copper plates rather than traditional handblocks. In 1843 it became known as David Evans & Co Ltd of Crayford, producing the finest silks for the likes of many famous clients including Liberty’s, Elizabeth Emmanuel, Holland and Holland, David Allen and even Sir Elton John before closing its doors 158 years later in 2001.

The exhibition unravels the history of David Evans, the evolution of different techniques used from hand block printing, and how the company advanced into screen-printing later in the 1970s. Visitors can learn about the history of silk and how it is extracted and processed, through the objects, which include artifacts from a silk farm. A carefully curated collection of original equipment from the factory including silk fabrics, printing and dying equipment will be complimented by pieces on loan from collectors, organisations and even a typically eye-catching outfit from Sir Elton John himself. A viewing room will also show original footage and imagery of the factory at work. 

Forward to present day, Pattern to Print uncovers the legacy of David Evans in the fashion world today and traces the transfer of its archive now held at Adamley in Macclesfield and Vanners in Sudbury. It looks at how contemporary designers can draw on this archive for inspiration or use the existing patterns. One such designer is British Fashion Award winner for Best Emerging Talent 2012 (ready-to-wear) J W Anderson. London based Anderson known for his play on proportions and love of bold print, has used the print archive for two collections in collaboration with Topshop.

Bexley Heritage Trust was recently awarded a grant from The Textile Society as part of their Museum, Archive and Conservation Awards, which will be used for the digitization of the David Evans archive. As a grant winner, the Trust will be showing at London Antique Textile Fair on Sunday 6th October.

Duration 14 September 2013 - 16 March 2014
Times Daily 10-5pm, (last entry 4.30pm)
Cost Adults £7, Concessions £5, Family £20, National Trust members discount applies. Free w art pass.
Venue Hall Place & Gardens
Address Bourne Road Kent DA5 1PQ, ,
Contact 01322621236 / /

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