Exhibitions 2014

Marian Clayden: A Dyer's Journey Through Art and Fashion

Items from Marian Clayden exhibition

27 September - 29 November

From dyeing fabrics for costumes and hangings for touring productions of the musical Hair in 1970, to producing an atelier collection of hand-dyed garments and accessories under her own label from 1981-2005, this exhibition showcases Preston-born Marian Clayden’s unique and luxurious designs.




Since perfecting the tie-dying technique in her kitchen, Marian Clayden’s work has remained exciting and fresh, experimenting with different shapes and mediums.

Her career has taken her from the world of textile art, through designing textiles for theatre and TV, to high fashion - with the launch of a haute couture line in the 1980s and having her own stores in such as Bergdorf New York and Saks Fifth Avenue in the 1990s

A Dyer's Journey Through Art and Fashion illustrates Clayden's development as an artist, celebrating her experiments in dyeing fabrics and fashion design. Included are her eye-popping silk wall hangings, oozing with 70s appeal, plus a small selection of her surprising hand-made structural works using donkey straps and ropes. We also have 38 garments from her 1990s fashion lines, which in themselves are pieces of art made to be worn in motion.

Watch our Marian Clayden Exhibition preview on You Tube



About Marian Clayden
Although she is more well-known in the United States, where she resides, Marian Clayden (nee Bolton) was born in Preston in 1937. She studied Education at Kesteven College in Lincolnshire and Art at Nottingham School of Art.

Having exhibited paintings at the Harris Museum & Art Gallery on several occasions in the 1950s, she taught in primary schools in Nottingham and Chorley from 1957-62, when she emigrated to Australia. There she began to experiment with dyeing. When she and her family moved to California in 1967, she established her own studio in Los Gatos. Soon she was part of the international fibre art scene.

Unusually for the times, she moved from textile art to hand-made limited edition garments and in 1981 established Clayden Inc. Likened to Mariano Fortuny, she created what has been characterized as American haute-couture.

Using luxurious velvets and other cloths masterfully air-brushed, discharged and dyed, her increasingly successful collections from 1981 until 2005 resulted in national acclaim and exposure on red-carpet events, with her designs worn by Oprah Winfrey and many Hollywood stars.

From fashion and dramatic accessories to large three-dimensional and sculptural pieces, Clayden has experimented with different shapes and mediums.

She created huge abstract silk artworks using:

Tie-dye, Shibori techniques - stitching designs or parts of the silk are gathered or bound together whilst dyeing sections of it,
Resist dyeing such as stitching designs or clamping - literally clamping shapes into silks and dyeing around them, or using chemicals such as diluted bleach to remove colour from areas.

Clayden created her own colourful fibres, bounding them together to create lengths of rope to make sculptural works. She also began to experiment with Donkey Straps, where she would burn and brush colour off the straps and then weave them together to create new structures.

Learning to weave on a loom led Clayden to create her own fashion line in 1981. Although her line used bohemian techniques, colours and patterns, it retained a sense of elegance and polish. In the 1990s, Clayden introduced velvet into her clothing, using jacquard-woven cut velvets to create stunning patterns.

The exhibition will illustrate Marians ever changing mediums and style, celebrating her experiments in dyeing fabrics and fashion design. This will include her eye popping silk wall hangings, oozing with 70s appeal; not forgetting a small selection of her surprising structural works using donkey straps and ropes all of which are handmade. We also have 38 garments from her 1990s fashion lines, which in themselves are pieces of art made to be worn in motion.

Working with Fulwood Academy
Staff from The Harris Museum & Art Gallery and textile artist,Glennis Hulme, worked closely with a group of students at Fulwood Academy to create some gorgeous garments inspired by Marian Clayden’s work.

A group of nine students began researching Marian Clayden’s collections,taking inspiration from her use ofcolour, shapes and techniques.

Working with Glennis, they experimented with various techniques such as Arashi Shibori,(pole dyeing) and Itajamie,better known as clamping and tie-dyeing.

These experiments produced a range of examples that the students could then use as a reference before creating garments using these techniques.



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