Friday, 22 February 2013

Knox, Knox (who's there?)


Regular readers of this blog will know that MoDA’s core collection is that of the Silver Studio, a  commercial design studio which opened in 1880.  Head of the Silver Studio, Arthur Silver (1853-1896) was a talented designer .  But although we know he employed a number of other designers in the 1880s and 90s, we don’t know much about who they were, or exactly which designs they produced.

One of the designers we think worked for the Studio in the 1890s is Archibald Knox.  He’s perhaps better known as a designer of Liberty silver and pewter, around the beginning of the twentieth century.  The Silver Studio records are a bit hazy around this time, but it seems possible that Knox worked for the Silver Studio around 1897-1900, producing designs which were sold by the Silver Studio to Liberty.

A woven textile featuring an Art Nouveau pattern of stylised flowers, 
attributed to Archibald Knox, around 1900.
Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture (ST417)

As with much of the work of the Silver Studio, there was a complex path between the original designer's idea and the finished product.  Designs were sold to manufacturers and retailers, such as Liberty, with the designer's name - and that of the Silver Studio itself -  tending to become anonymous in the process.   
This textile design appears in the Studio's photographic records for around 1900, and has been attributed to Archibald Knox. Accompanying evidence has not survived, but there are strong stylistic similarities with other designs known to be by him.


Knox's grave, Isle of Man
image courtesy of Peter Killey

Knox was from the Isle of Man, and his much of his work was influenced by Celtic pattern.   The Archibald Knox Society will be marking the 80th anniversary of Knox's death at 3.30pm today, with a visit to the last resting place of this Manx designer, which is itself an impressive piece of design.


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