Monday, 18 April 2011

Sacred monsters

Dress by Marion Foale and Sally Tuffin, 1969
Printed silk, designed by Bernard Nevill for Liberty of London

Bernard Nevill (b.1934)

Professor Nevill studied and taught at St Martin's College of Art and the Royal College of Art in London. In 1960 he became a design consultant for Liberty where he revitalised their traditional prints. Enabling them to keep pace with, and ultimately influence,  the fashions of swinging London. His Islamic range of 1963 helped introduce Eastern design motifs and his Jazz range of 1964 led to an Art-Deco revival.

Nevill also achieved great success designing furnishing fabrics (Romanex de Boussac, Pierre Frey),  and costume designs for the stage (the musical Marigold 1958, the Glyndebourne production of Cosi fan Tutte 1960) and screen (Genevieve 1953, Next to No Time 1955, The Admirable Crichton 1957).

Music is a very important part of my life, I listen with my eyes rather than my ears when I'm colouring, there is such a close association between music and colour which is quite a well known thing.

Bernard Nevill English Country House foxglove chintz

In the 1980s Nevill was commissioned by Sekers to create the English Country House collection. A highly successful collection of classical designs utilising his trademark handling of bold colour. Several of which were used in the 1982 redesign for the British Embassy's Long Gallery in Washington.


Glebe House ...Chelsea.

It is the London home of Monty, Withnail's lascivious gay uncle who wears a radish in his lapel, grows parsnips indoors and considers "the carrot infinitely more fascinating than the geranium". We have very kindly been invited in by the house's owner, Bernard Nevill. One of Britain's most important textile designers and former professor at the Royal College of Art, he is justly proud of his pad, "That carpet you were walking on is one of the largest Zieglers ever made."

The extraordinary redbrick Victorian mansion by Philip Webb does not seem to have been rearranged. Drawings by Hockney lean against dust-laden bookshelves. There is scarcely room to walk between the animal rugs, the huge chests and the incredible objets d'art. The sofa is the same, the heavy drapes are the same, even much of the clutter on the fireplace is the same. In short, the house is just as Monty left it.

Withnail With A High Conscience
The Evening Standard Newspaper - 2000
By Vincent Graff

At present, Nevill is restoring what remains of the north wing of  Fonthill Abbey, his country house since 1976. A task worthy of Sisyphus. Though, one imagines, not entirely without reward as  Nevill believes himself to be the reincarnation of William Beckford, the house's original owner.

Interior view of Fonthill by its architect James Wyatt

Now playing:  Blur - Charmless Man

1 comment:

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

A radish in the lapel.
I must remember that.