‘Black because it has power in it …’ The Textile Designs of Althea McNish

Sinclair, Rose. 2023. ‘Black because it has power in it …’ The Textile Designs of Althea McNish. Journal of the Decorative Arts Society 1850 to the Present, 47, pp. 90-107. ISSN 0260-9568 [Article]

06_DAS 2023 Sinclair_pp90-107_2-03.pdf - Published Version

Download (1MB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

Althea McNish (1924–2020) is regarded as the first black designer of Caribbean heritage to gain international recognition for her textile designs. Her work in the field of textiles and interior design is remarkable, both for its artistic achievement and its social and cultural significance for British post-war design. Although McNish would go on to have a career spanning nearly 60 years as a designer, there is very little written about her approach to practice and process and use of colour. This article will discuss and highlight McNish’s impact, influence and role in the development of the use of colour in mid twentieth-century textile design, through unpublished archival research and reflections on the recent exhibition of her work. McNish’s work is informed by her dynamic palette and her vibrant use of colour, for which she would become renowned, indeed McNish herself stated, ‘I was born seeing colour from the day of my birth.’1

Item Type:



Althea McNish, Textiles, Colour

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



October 2023Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

28 Mar 2024 09:13

Last Modified:

28 Mar 2024 14:12

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)