Althea McNish (1924-2020) was a British textile designer of Trinidadian origin who is considered the first designer of African-Caribbean descent to achieve international recognition. Her designs injected much-needed colour and life into the post-war fashion and textiles industry from the 1950’s onwards. Born in Trinidad, McNish moved to London in 1951 with her mother, who was a well-regarded dressmaker and dress designer, to take a place to study at the Architectural Association School of Architecture but instead took courses at the London School of Printing and Graphic Art, the Central School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal College of Art. In her final year at the London School of Printing and Graphic Arts, she became interested in textiles with the encouragement of Eduardo Paolozzi, her night class tutor at the Central School, and chose printed textiles as her subject of study on progressing to the Royal College of Art. On graduating, she immediately won a commission from Arthur Stewart-Liberty, head of the Liberty department store, sending her the same day by taxi to Zika Ascher, who commissioned her to design a fashion collection for Dior. Most of McNish’s designs are based on nature, including the textile design featured in this exhibition - Golden Harvest (1957), the bright orange, yellow and black graphic pattern inspired by the wheat fields of Essex, which reminded McNish of Trinidad’s sugarcane plantations. Her drawings and sketches fused the rich, tropical colours, flowing shapes and organic textures of the wheat into this repeating fabric design. This textile design was later manufactured by Hull Traders in 1959 as an upholstery fabric manually screen printed on cotton satin using a range of deep colour pigment dyes. This Lancashire-based commercial design company focused on making textiles designed by artists, and their name and designs were synonymous with the Swinging 60’s. Hull Traders’ lead designer was Shirley Craven who commissioned Althea to create nine designs between 1959 and 1964. The fabric Golden Harvest was put forward as one of the designs, becoming Althea’s best-selling design for Hull Traders and their best-selling design of all time. It continued to be manufactured well into the 1970s. In the 1960’s, McNish took on jobs for various other fashion and furniture companies including Heal’s and Guy Laroche. During this time, she also ensured that she retained her links with the West Indies, becoming a founding member of the Caribbean Artists Movement where she was an active member between 1966 and 1972. In 1966, McNish designed fabrics for the official wardrobe of Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Trinidad. Over the years, her paintings and drawings have been exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (1978), the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester (2007) and, most recently, at Somerset House, London (2019) as part of the exhibition Get Up, Stand Up Now. Examples of her textile design can be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Haringey Council’s Bruce Castle Museum and the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture in London, UK, the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, PA, and the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, NY. In 2018, McNish was named in Architectural Digest as one of ‘Five Female Designers Who Changed History’. McNish lived in the Tottenham area of London for over sixty years of her life.