Painted Fabrics


We have a Painted Fabrics themed exhibition, Work Not Charity, running here at The Art House from 31st March. It focuses on the Sheffield based organisation which was set up after World War I to provide retraining and meaningful employment for injured service personnel.
The exhibition is a celebration for the end of the first year of a project focusing on the company.
Many people in the city know something of Painted Fabrics Ltd from the display about it at Weston Park Museum but, for those who don’t, here’s a brief introduction to it’s history and the work it did.

In World War I many personnel suffered terrible wounds and lost limbs. They returned home to a future of hardship and unemployment.
But Anne Bridon Carter – originally from Nottingham – recognised the potential of these men and understood the need to offer meaningful employment to those with serious, life changing injury. And she believed that art could offer a solution.
Annie had moved to Sheffield to study at The Sheffield School of Art where she had won awards for her innovative mural and textile designs. It was using these skills – and a passion to improve ex-servicemen’s prospects – that she set up Painting Fabrics Ltd.
Starting at the Wharncliffe War Hospital she developed a technique to attach instruments to artificial limbs to allow the injured to work with stencils, brushes and fabrics.
In 1923 she moved the company into old army huts at Meadowhead and used the different huts to create screen, block and hand-printing designs as well as developing stencil designs.
Working with designs by her sister and two friends, the workforce of injured and disabled servicemen were soon producing luxurious clothing, cushion covers and wedding dresses of exceptional quality – as well as been sold throughout Sheffield they were also stocked at Liberty and Claridges.
The ran for 44 years recording their first sale at Wharncliffe Hospital in 1915 and their last at The Cutlers Hall in 1968.
Anne Binding Carter was awarded the MBE in 1926 and died in 1968.
It is a fascinating part of the city’s history and you can discover much more at the exhibition that runs from Saturday 31st March to Tuesday 17th April.