The show, which is held at Firstsite Gallery in Colchester, Essex, explores the Hammer Prints Ltd venture set up by artists Paolozzi and Henderson in 1954, aiming to further what the pair termed their ‘attack on the craft field using the silk-screen as a media to be exploited.’
Hammer Prints Ltd’s seven-year lifespan saw the artists create a series of patterns and designs which were applied to textiles, wallpapers, ceramics and homewares.
Apfel used the original acetates from these designs to restore and reproduce the patterns and colourways, creating wallpaper for the gallery walls.
Apfel was brought in to work on the exhibition at the beginning of this year, having previously worked with Firstsite senior curator Michelle Cotton on other projects including the gallery’s inaugural Camulodunum exhibition and the Design Research Unit publication, which was published last year.
The consultancy used the Hammer Prints Ltd Sea Beasts designs to create a series of enlarged graphic cutouts for the main curved wall of the gallery building, aiming to draw visitors into the galleries. The designs use 17th Century etchings of sea creative, which have been magnified and displayed throughout the atrium area.
The wallpaper designs use the Hammer Print Newsprint and Scraffito patterns, which were scanned and pieced together to cover the walls.
Anna Lisa Reynolds, Apfel studio manager, says, ‘At the outset we weren’t sure what materials we’d have to work with, but we were given some amazing original acetates.
‘There’s no digital counterpart – it’s all analogue – so it’s exciting to go through and create something contemporary for the modern day, while remaining completely faithful to the original sizes and colours.’
Apfel created a large timeline for the exhibition, charting the history of the company, and all exhibition graphics and wayfinding.
Reynolds says, ‘We wanted to keep it as clean as possible and let the work in the exhibition make the statement. We were concerned to use something appropriate to the time [Paolozzi and Henderson] were working, and also use something clean and legible that would work alongside the patterns.’
The exhibition merchandise, also designed by Apfel, has been created using patterns form the Hammer Prints Archive to create limited-edition homeware pieces.
A publication designed by Apfel and written by Firstsite senior curator Michelle Cotton will launch in February next year. The exhibition runs until 24 February 2013.