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Gwen Mullins

Gwen Mullins was born in London in 1904. She married in 1925 and learnt the rudiments of weaving shortly afterwards, at the London School of Weaving in Kensington. She was, however, largely self-taught. Her work appeared regularly in exhibitions from the 1960s, when she showed in London at the Tea Centre in Lower Regent Street, the Crafts Centre, Hay Hill and, later, at the British Crafts Centre in Earlham Street, Covent Garden. She was also an exhibiting member of the Red Rose Guild, Manchester.

Gwen Mullins is known mainly for her floor rugs in linen and wool, using the long knotted pile technique known as 'rya' which originated in Finland and rose to popularity in the 1950s and 60s. She wove in an airy modern studio in her home, on a Swedish-made Ulla Cyrus, 4-shaft countermarch loom, using linen, British wools and commercial rug yarns. From the beginning, Gwen Mullins used natural dyes and it was only when working on a large commission for Worcester Cathedral in the 1970s that she began to use chemical dyes. Her work is in the collections of the Crafts Council, the Royal Scottish Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. In 1979 she was appointed OBE.

In about 1954 she founded the Graffham Weavers Workshop in collaboration with her daughter the weaver Barbara Mullins. It was based at their premises near Petworth, Sussex where they taught classes and held group exhibitions in a barn biannually. She also founded the Gwen Mullins Trust which mostly gave grants to young craftspeople who wished to travel or set up workshops. This activity was wound up in 1974 when the Crafts Advisory Committee (now the Crafts Council) became active in grant-giving to individuals.



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