Pat Prichard Remembered. Scarves and Vintage Textiles
I’m very excited to bring this post to you today, because it sheds a little light on another fabulous designer from the 1950’s.
I have previously spoken here and here about the talented Pat Prichard, who designed hundreds of tea towels, scarves and linens during her lifetime. Sadly there is very little written online about Pat or her work, so I was delighted when a lovely gent, ‘Larry’ from the U.S.A contacted me, to say that his mum had been a good, close friend of Pat’s and would I like her to write down some memories and share them with us all on Fishink Blog! Well, you can imagine that it didn’t take me long to consider their kind offer and below are the fascinating recollections.
My story is from a long time ago. Pat and I met at the Parson’s School of Design sometime between 1947 and 1950. The class was then called ‘Advertising Design’ (‘Graphics’ may be a more appropriate subject title for today), Parson is now part of The New School in Manhattan.
Pat and I were the same age, well just a month difference, she was intelligent, well-read and culturally up to date. Occasionally working in a studio, Pat was creatively quite an original and did well when freelancing and producing work for different companies. During our friendship, I noticed how Pat’s style developed, her handwriting emerged and she experimented with a much freer look, which proved to be very fashionable.
I remember in the late 50’s taking a huge bouquet of hand-picked flowers, (from my mother who loved Pat), over to her place. Large Hydrangeas and many lesser sized, but equally lovely flowers, transported all the way from NJ to NYC (however did I do it ?.. I may even have walked the distance). The bouquet, however, became Pat’s inspiration, and the next time I visited, there, in the hallway, just waiting for me to view it was a stunning painting of my flowers.
Perhaps the bouquet could have inspired the design below ?
When our friendship began Pat and her mum were living in Queens, (her father had sadly passed away soon after she was born). As Pat became autonomous, she discovered and rented a unique two-story apartment made of stone over on the east side of Manhattan. I still lived with my parents, so I really admired her gumption and strength to achieve so much so early. Pat’s apartment was furnished generously with Victorian pieces collected through ‘antiquing’ a pastime she loved to do, and which soon became the subject matter for many of her designs.
I remember the stairs in her apartment were painted black (probably Pat’s choice) and built right into the wall. The landlord did a great job in making the changes and the place looked stunning. The living room was carpeted in deep lavender, a daring shade and at the same time,Victorian in feeling and the marble top tables fitted in splendidly well. Pat married and lived towards the end of her life in Pennsylvania, where she had many friends, who I imagine, have many of her paintings. I have two of her works, one was a gift and the other I purchased.
The first is of one of Pat’s trips to Italy. This is Venice, St Mark’s Square on a wet, but still crowded afternoon. How wonderfully she depicts the flight of the pigeons, the tourists with their dark sunglasses and the porticos on both sides pointing to the Cathedral in the distance.
No prizes for guessing where Pat got the inspiration for these designs from!
I love how she has simplified the decoration on the buildings but still manages to get enough detail into each design so that we can easily tell where it depicts. They must have been very popular judging by the number of colourway variations I’ve seen produced.
Such beautiful designs.
The second painting depicts the harbour of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. It’s similar in style to the Venice piece but a little more mysterious and slightly haunting too.
Sadly Pat passed away when she was in her early sixties. I had many of her handkerchiefs and cards that she had painted for me over the years but with downsizing, only one scarf now remains with me. It’s tattered and torn, faded and sports a hole but, like my memories, doesn’t take up too much room !
I want to send out a huge vote of thanks to both Larry and his mum for making this post possible. For taking the photos, typing two pages of the warmest, fondest, memories I’ve read for a long time (gosh I hope some of my friends remember me with such warmth : ) ) and for keeping me up to date with everything as we got the story together. How fascinating to share a glimpse into Pat’s world through the eyes of a good friend.
I’m certain there will be many of you who will enjoy reading these recollections, please leave a comment if you do.
If anyone else knows someone I may have covered in one of my posts and would like to share their thoughts and images, then please do get in touch. You can reach me here Craig at fishink.co.uk
A very happy Bank Holiday to all in the UK too.