Mitzi Cunliffe: Legacy and Reputation
Wednesday 22 February
Professor Ann Sumner discusses the success of American sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe in the 1950s, followed by a short talk about the impact of the Synthetics Revolution at M&S.
Professor Ann Sumner discusses the success of glamourous American sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe in the 1950s. This was the decade that Cunliffe was known for her public art, textile and ceramic design; created the iconic BAFTA trophy award and became a TV celebrity.
Amidst much excitement surrounding new textile innovations in this period, in 1953 Mitzi Cunliffe designed a number of textiles for the David Whitehead Fabrics and for Tootal Broadhurst at this time. She also created a textile design to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, which has recently been gifted to ULITA at the University of Leeds and will be shown as part of the event.
Mitzi Cunliffe was also approached in 1954 to create Man-Made Fibres for the new Synthetic Fibres building at the University of Leeds. With a tight deadline to finish the work, Mitzi used power tools to produce this monumental sculpture, which had lasting effects on her health including arthritis of the hands. Professor Ann Sumner will examine how arthritis impacted on her reputation as an artist, and her legacy today. Mitzi’s story is inspiring an exhibition by Deborah Gardner at Bradford Industrial Museum later this year.
The exhibition, comprising drawings of the hands of arthritis sufferers, responds to the sculpted hands of Man-Made Fibres and Mitzi’s own experiences. Deborah, a sculptor and lecturer in Art & Design, School of Design, will be speaking at the event with Professor Maya Buch, Deputy Director at the Leeds Institute of Rheumatic & Musculoskeletal Medicine.
This talk is part of the Arts Council funded Yorkshire Year of the Textile programme, launched on the 60th anniversary of Man-Made Fibres. The project is initiated by the Cultural Institute at the University of Leeds and celebrates the region's rich textile heritage, focusing on creativity, innovation and new research.
'Mitzi Cunliffe: Legacy and Reputation' will be followed by a short talk about the impact of the Synthetics Revolution at M&S, which explores the way in which the company was at the forefront of synthetic textile development. There will be chance for discussion with the speakers afterwards.
Light refreshments provided, no need to book, just drop in.
12.30pm light refreshments, 1pm event starts
M&S Company Archive
Michael Marks Building
University of Leeds