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Pat Prichard Remembered. Scarves and Vintage Textiles

March 8, 2021

Fishinkblog 10039 Pat Prichard Scarves 5

Happy International Women’s Day everyone.

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 ?

Fishinkblog 10038 Pat Prichard Scarves 4

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.

Fishinkblog 10040 Pat Prichard Scarves 6

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.

Fishinkblog 10033 Pat Prichard Painting 1

No prizes for guessing where Pat got the inspiration for these designs from!

Fishinkblog 10035 Pat Prichard Italy Scarves 1

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.

Fishinkblog 10036 Pat Prichard Italy Scarves 2

Such beautiful designs.

Fishinkblog 10037 Pat Prichard Italy Scarves 3

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.

Fishinkblog 10034 Pat Prichard Painting 2

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

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Deirdre O'Sullivan from Australia permalink
    March 8, 2021 3:16 pm

    I remember my Grandmother came back from a big shopping trip to America – this would have been in the early 1970s, and she brought back a big stack of these fab designs as tea towels.
    I remember them vividly! Even as an 8 year old kid, I was delighted by the colours and gorgeous designs. I especially remember the hot air balloons, prancing horses, and Venetian designs. Hot pinks, turquoise, and that very 60s yellowy khaki green. This was all very groovy stuff – dazzling to my young eyes, because we had nothing like this in Australia. I remember helping my Gran to dry the dishes, and telling her off, because I thought these lovely designs were far too good to be used as dish rags!

    What a brilliant colourist Pat Prichard was – she really understood about colour theory, and how blue based tones spark so vibrantly with yellow based ones. I’m amazed someone so talented wasn’t grabbed by children’s book publishers in the 50s and 60s – such a shame, because textiles have a very limited lifespan, compared to book illustrations. I’m sure my old Grandma’s tea towels faded and are long gone by now. Pat Prichard deserved to be published – does anyone know if she was? Surely, Little Golden books would have been perfect for her charming, vivacious style. Thanks ever so much, Craig, for celebrating her joyful talent.

    • March 8, 2021 9:56 pm

      Great memories as always Deirdre, thanks for sharing them with us. I agree Pat’s work should be published, it’s superb.

  2. Melissa Szilagyi permalink
    March 8, 2021 7:32 pm

    thrilled to read about my absolute favorite designer. Thanks for sharing Craig. I love your blog!

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