Many of the designs in the exhibition have been inspired by painting from the same era. The stylistic conventions of Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art and Op Art can be seen in many of the fabric designs. Some designs share a painterly, gestural quality reminiscent of oil on canvas. Others have a geometric style or play with optical illusion. Some designs have a scratchy, drawn quality reminiscent of illustration and playful doodling.
The creativity of the designers within Hull Traders, in the sense of them following their own ideas and instincts, rather than working to a prescribed, client-driven brief, marks them out as being more akin to fine artists than commercial designers. Also, the hand screen-printing process and attention to detail in terms of production, meant that many of the fabrics were produced almost as unique, one-off art works.
This theme focuses on designs which relate to the conventions of painting in terms of colour, mark-making, texture, form and composition. ‘Pattern and Paint’ is an opportunity to explore the relationship between fine art and applied design and the cross-over between the two not-so-distinct creative processes.