One of the world’s largest and most significant collections of fabric and wallpaper samples is now available to view for the first time at The Monastery in Manchester.
The Print Pattern Archive consisting of more than 50,000 pieces dating back to the 1700s is estimated to be worth millions. The extensive catalogue of swatches form a commercial collection still used today, providing inspiration for new designs for some of the UK’s biggest clothing manufactures such as ASOS, M&S, Next and Boden and top British design houses including Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood.
The treasure trove of print patterns was originally based in New York. It was brought to the UK by top textile designer Cheryl O’Meara, who was gifted the collection by Marlene Goldstein, who started building the archive over three decades ago. Cheryl worked for Marlene in New York in 1997, helping to set up a design studio alongside the archive. Twenty years later Marlene got back in touch as she wanted Cheryl to be the new custodian of the collection and take it to England. She knew Cheryl was the only person who loved and understood the Print Pattern Archive like she did and could breathe new life into it.
Now permanently based at The Monastery in Gorton, Cheryl O’Meara will open the archive to the public on the first Monday of every month, giving talks at 1.30pm and 3pm. Tickets are £10 per person and can be bought via The Monastery website here. Places are limited so booking is essential.
Elaine Griffiths, chief executive of The Monastery said: “It’s wonderful to have this priceless, private collection here at The Monastery. This building was built by The Franciscans and St Francis’s father was textile merchant so, along with Manchester’s heritage as the textile capital of the world, it’s fitting to give the archive a home here. Cheryl’s collection contains so many historically significant pieces. We are so lucky to have Cheryl with us. Her amazing talent, and keen commercial eye, is recognised by the biggest names in fashion and she really is at the top of her game. This archive will influence the clothes and interiors we see on the high street now and in the years to come.”
Cheryl O’Meara, who owns the Print Pattern Archive said: “This is a remarkably diverse collection of fabrics and wallpapers spanning nearly two centuries and I can’t wait to show it to the public for the first time. We have ditsy prints from the 1920s to bold patterns from the 70s and even fine woven silk patterns from China that are 150 years old. Although all the items are very precious, I want them to be accessible. It’s a working archive and not a museum exhibit so visitors will be able to open the wallpaper and swatch books and feel the fabrics. It’s an incredibly special collection, with so much energy, so it’s really no surprise it’s ended up at The Monastery. It’s the perfect place to house it.”