The legacy of the Omega Workshop suffuses the present Design for a Rug, by one of Omega’s founding artists Duncan Grant. When Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell and Grant first established the Omega Workshop, shortly after the success of the two Post-Impressionist Exhibitions organised by Fry in 1911 and 1913, their aim was to celebrate design and decoration. One of their ambitions was to relocate the Post-Impressionist aesthetic, currently isolated within the confines of the gallery setting, and integrate it into every aspect of the home. Young artists, such as Wyndham Lewis and Paul Nash, were encouraged to design pottery, furniture, fabrics and interiors. These designs became a vital tool in deconstructing the binary that separated interior designs as a mere craft from interior design as a fine artform.


Grant’s rug design exemplifies the Bloomsbury group’s ambition to break down any segregation between fine art and design. The stylised forms and block colours are reminiscent of Post-Impressionist techniques, however Grant was pioneering...


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The legacy of the Omega Workshop suffuses the present Design for a Rug, by one of Omega’s founding artists Duncan Grant. When Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell and Grant first established the Omega Workshop, shortly after the success of the two Post-Impressionist Exhibitions organised by Fry in 1911 and 1913, their aim was to celebrate design and decoration. One of their ambitions was to relocate the Post-Impressionist aesthetic, currently isolated within the confines of the gallery setting, and integrate it into every aspect of the home. Young artists, such as Wyndham Lewis and Paul Nash, were encouraged to design pottery, furniture, fabrics and interiors. These designs became a vital tool in deconstructing the binary that separated interior designs as a mere craft from interior design as a fine artform.


Grant’s rug design exemplifies the Bloomsbury group’s ambition to break down any segregation between fine art and design. The stylised forms and block colours are reminiscent of Post-Impressionist techniques, however Grant was pioneering in his experimentation with purely abstract forms. Fry argued that the artists he exhibited in the Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition; 


…do not seek to imitate form, but to create form; not to imitate life, but to find an equivalent to life’.[1]


Unlike the other, mostly figurative works in this Private View, the present design demonstrates the significance of the Bloomsbury group as among the first painters to explore abstraction in Britain.


The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, holds a similar design in oil on card with the Agnew's stock no. 9282, catalogue no.33. The present work was exhibited at Agnew & Sons Exhibition 'Recent Work by Duncan Grant' 1937. Alongside was exhibited the famous mural designs, intended for the first class lounge in the Queen Mary liner, which were originally rejected by Cunnard, causing a dispute which reached far and wide across the art world, including directors and trustees of the Tate, the National Gallery and the V&A. Despite this uproar, the exhibition at Agnew & Sons proved a huge success, and Grant’s work contiued to draw positive critique.


[1] L. Elkin, ‘Design and desires: how Vanessa Bell put the bloom in Bloomsbury’, The Guardian, 27th January 2017. Access here

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500 Years of British Art