Counterpoints Arts
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Yorkshire and Humberside
12 October 2021  -  12 October 2021

The Clothes On Our Backs

15 Tibor design 'Spaceflight'year Courtesy of Sam Reich.
A free online seminar (2pm via Zoom) led by Anna Nyburg exploring the contribution of refugees, primarily Jewish, to the British textile, fashion and design industries in the 1930s and beyond, with a particular focus on those who settled and worked in Yorkshire.
Plus, Jill Winder the Associate Curator (Decorative Art and Artefacts) at Leeds University Library, will introduce  parts of their collection relating to displacement and conflict.
Presented as part of Platforma 6 in collaboration with Insiders/Outsiders.
Free booking via Eventbrite
Image: from ‘Spaceflight’ by Tibor Reich, courtesy of Sam Reich

By the time World War Two broke out in 1939, some 80,000 refugees fleeing the Nazis had arrived in Britain, most of them Jewish. Those who worked in the textile trade brought new technology, products and designs and and more positive approach  to exporting. They also brought new design traditions with them, especially if they had trained before coming, perhaps at Berlin’s famous Reimann School, itself a refugee to London in 1937.

Some refugees settled in Yorkshire,  one of the world’s major textile manufacturing centres,  and Leeds University Textile Department was the place to study textile design. One alumnus was the celebrated Hungarian designer, Tibor Reich, who brought much needed colour and style to British homes after the war. Many others, including Isaak Donner, Joseph Kagan and Hans Schneider made significant contributions to the worlds of textiles, fashion and design.

Image: Spaceflight by Tibor Reich, 1957, the same year as the Sputnik satellite, courtesy of Sam Reich.

Anna Nyburg is an Honorary Lecturer at Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication, Imperial College London. Her book The Clothes On Our Back:How Refugees from Nazism Revitalised the British Fashion Trade  was published in 2020. It will be on sale to seminar attendees with a special discount of 20%. 
Leeds University Library’s Special Collections is the home of hundreds of thousands of rare books, manuscripts, archives and art. The collections offer a rich resource for staff, students, and the wider research community. Jill Winder will introduce the collection and discuss artefacts relating to textiles and displacement.
Insiders/Outsiders is an ongoing programme celebrating the indelible contribution of refugees from Nazi-dominated Europe to British culture.