Frances Burke’s (1904–1994) bold prints offering vibrant colours and distinct patterns found a following among the leading architects, interior and furniture designers of 1940s and 50s, including Robin Boyd, Roy Grounds, Marion Hall Best, Grant Featherston and Clement Meadmore.
As a young woman, Burke chose to ‘design the world she wanted’ establishing her business in 1937. During World War II when imported printed fabrics were scarce, she resourcefully sold dress fabrics and hemmed lengths of furnishing fabric in her bright modern designs allowing Melbourne women to ‘make do’ in style. Perfectly positioned in the post war period Burke’s business flourished – she managed her design and print business while lecturing, writing about design, travelling, advocating for design through her work as a founding member of the Society of Designers for Industry from 1947
Authors of ‘Frances Burke: Designer of modern textiles’, Nanette Carter and Robyn Oswald-Jacobs, join us at Walsh Street to share Burke’s legacy as a textile designer, manufacturer, retailer, businesswoman and design ambassador.
A design historian specialising in Australian design, Dr Nanette Carter is an adjunct scholar at the School of Design and Architecture, Swinburne University. Nanette and Robyn Oswald-Jacobs shared the Redmond Barry Fellowship awarded by the State Library of Victoria and the University of Melbourne 2019-2020 for their research into Frances Burke.
An independent scholar and a graduate of the Textile Design program at RMIT University, Robyn Oswald-Jacobs completed research Master’s degree on the career of Frances Burke. This project led to the establishment of the Textile Resource Collection: Australian Fashion and Textile Design – the foundation for RMIT University’s Design Archives.
On the night
– Wine and beer sold by the glass.
– ‘Frances Burke: Designer of modern textiles’ for sale.
– Credit card sales only.
– If it’s your first time to the house, seek out our volunteer guides for a quick tour.