Althea McNish

Althea McNish: Blue Plaque unveiled

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Monday 15 May saw the unveiling of a Blue Heritage Plaque, at 142 West Green Road in Tottenham, for Trinidadian-born artist, Althea McNish. Placed on the home where Althea lived for 53 years, it was fittingly unveiled on the 99th anniversary of her birth to commemorate her contribution to the fabric and textile industry.

Althea arrived in UK in 1951 as the age of 27. It was whilst studying at the Royal College of Art for her postgraduate degree that she began to attract national attention with her Caribbean-influenced prints. Immediately after graduating, Althea was commissioned to produce a series of prints for Liberty’s Department Store.

This led to further commissions from prestigious clients, and in 1966 Althea’s designs and fabrics were used to dress the Queen’s temporary residence for her state visit to Trinidad. By the late 60’s, McNish had become one of the most prominent women producing prints for the textile and fabric industry. Her exhibitions were legendary and she became an integral part of the Caribbean Arts Movement in the UK. In 1976, Althea was awarded the Chaconia Medal (Gold), ‘for long and meritorious service to art and design.’

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A more recent exhibition entitled ‘Althea McNish: Colour is Mine’, was sponsored by Liberty Fabrics, beginning at the William Morris Gallery, London and subsequently touring to the The Whitworth, Manchester.

“My designing is functional but free, you can wear it, sit on it, lie on it, stand on it,” McNish said of her work, which she described as a “statement of my being”. Althea McNish passed away in April 2020, at 95 years old.

His Excellency Vishnu Dhanpaul, High Commissioner for Trinidad and Tobago, and Gus John, were amongst those who gave speeches at the unveling ceremony attended by family, friends, neighbours, and followers of Althea McNish.

The installation of this plaque was made possible by the work of the Nubian Jak Foundation, London Unseen and supported by Haringey Council.

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