Laura Gascoigne

The importance of lesbianism to British modernism: Double Weave, at Ditchling Museum, reviewed

A fascinating tribute to the forgotten creative partnership of textile artists Hilary Bourne and Barbara Allen

Royal Festival Hall sample, 1951, by Hilary Bourne and Barbara Allen. Credit: Sara Morris

The name of Ditchling used to be synonymous with Eric Gill, but since he was outed as an abuser of his own daughters the association has become an embarrassment. Obliged to quietly drop its most famous name, Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft has been exploring less controversial connections. Its latest show, about Bourne and Allen, is a tribute to a forgotten creative partnership that casts a fascinating sidelight on the contribution of women’s traditional crafts – and lesbianism – to British modernism.

After the Festival Hall put them on the map, they were approached to weave the fabrics for Ben-Hur


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