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Mary Restieaux

Mary Restieaux RDI was born in Norwich, Norfolk, in 1945 and studied at Cambridge College of Art (1964-7), Hammersmith College of Art (1969-72) and the Royal College of Art (1972-4), where she was taught by the late Marianne Straub. She continued studying part-time as a research fellow in ikat weaving at the Royal College up to 1980.

At the age of 28 she set up her first studio in her home in Dulwich, South London, dyeing yarn on the kitchen stove and weaving on a dobby loom purchased from Ursula Brock, which is still in use. For five years she made small ikat wall-hangings in silk and produced woven samples to be sold as designs for fashion fabrics; by the end of the Seventies her work was appearing regularly in exhibitions.

In 1979 Mary Restieaux was selected for the Crafts Council's Index of Makers (now called Photostore) and in the same year moved into larger studio premises. This, her current workshop, comprises two spacious, linked rooms opening on to her garden (an important colour and design stimulus), and an adjacent dye-room set up for mixing acid dyes and dip-dyeing silk yarn, as integral to the ikat process. On moving in, she bought an 8-shaft countermarch Harris loom which enabled her, throughout the 1980s, to weave large hangings for exhibition and to commission. She originally obtained all her silk yarn from the weaver and importer Hilary Chetwynd but now buys it from suppliers in the north of England or Switzerland.

From 1975 to the present day, Mary Restieaux has undertaken several sorts of related work. She has lectured at many art colleges, including Chelsea College of Art and Goldsmiths'College in London, where she taught on a regular basis. In the years 1991 to 1998 she undertook colour consultancy work for noted fashion houses, working closely and extensively with Herve Leger, Paris, on his striped 'bandage' dresses. At the same time she joined the First Eleven Studio, run by Jenny Frean RDI, as a freelance designer producing samples - in her special ikat technique - for leading international fashion and furnishing houses. She continues with this design work today, while also weaving ikat wall-hangings to commission, teaching her craft, and acting as co-ordinator for the Marianne Straub Travel Scholarship, awarded annually to a student at the Royal College of Art.

In 1994 Mary Restieaux was awarded the Traditional Technique Award from the Fourth International Textile Competition in Kyoto, Japan.

2005 Royal College of Art, Honorary Fellow.
2009 The Worshipful Company of Weavers' Silver Medal "....... awarded to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the textile industry".
2011 Royal Society Of Arts, Royal Designer for Industry (RDI) "An influential textile designer and consummate craftsperson whose work transcends the distance between craft and industrial design"



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