RHS and Riley Blake Designs present a unique fabric collection
Following its licensing agreement with US-based family-owned fabric manufacturer Riley Blake Designs to bring RHS-inspired cotton quilting and sewing fabric to a large number of online and physical outlets worldwide, the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has announced the unveiling of the official name and visual inspiration that will guide this unique collection.
The collection, called Floral Gardens, will launch in December 2023. In developing this collection, the RHS and Riley Blake Designs have been inspired by the vast range of superb horticultural artists in the RHS Lindley Collections, the world’s finest collection of botanical art.
The result is an extraordinary and diverse series of illustrations of plants spanning more than three centuries brilliantly adapted to produce fabric panel designs that can be used as part of quilting, apparel and home décor projects.
Among the artists featured in the designs are Pierre Francois Ledoulx and Lydia Penrose, two artists whose astonishing horticultural and botanical artworks have lived on and been widely admired many years after their deaths, even though little is known about the artists themselves.
Inspiration has also come from Caroline Marie Applebee, the daughter of a Rector of East Thorpe, Essex, and Prebendary of Lincoln, who spent most of her life in Colchester, and is known to have exhibited plants at her local horticultural society’s shows. She also produced 40 years of drawings – more than 300 in all – which elegantly record the floral world available to a horticulturally minded artist in Essex.
Even better known is Graham Stuart Thomas. Not only are his drawings and watercolours of roses renowned, but he is also world-famous for his work in the 20th century gathering and popularising old and new shrub roses.
Lillian Snelling was born thirty years before Thomas, in 1879. On her death in 1972 the distinguished botanist Dr George Lawrence said of her: “Her work as a botanical artist is without living peer [and] as a botanical illustrator and technician her work materially eclipses that of Redouté [a revered Belgian painter and botanist].” She was a winner of The Victoria Medal of Honour, the Royal Horticultural Society’s highest award, as well as a major influence on many other British botanical artists.
The result of this sublime artistic input is a glorious collection of high-quality quilting cottons as well as designs in natural linen. A home decor tea towel panel and DIY quilt kits will also be part of this unique, and uniquely appealing, collection – one that will be showcased on social media by Riley Blake Designs to boost awareness ahead of a wide launch.
In fact, distribution will be through over 3,000 independent fabric and quilt stores, more than 15 distributors and specialty fabric e-commerce in the USA and its territories, as well as Canada, the UK, the EU, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea.
Riley Blake Designs has been a leading manufacturer in the quilting and sewing industries for many years, with over 50 designers producing more than 80 fabric collections per year. It holds licenses with a wide and growing number of household name brands ranging from Barbie and Thomas the Tank Engine to the Jane Austen House Museum, John Wayne and Liberty of London.
Cindy Cloward, Owner and Creative Director at Riley Blake Designs, says: “It wasn’t easy choosing appropriate illustrations from the vast riches of the RHS Lindley Collections, but the result has been some extraordinary and memorable artwork that, combined with our own skill in fabric manufacture, has resulted in a unique and irresistible collection.”
Cathy Snow, Licensing Manager at RHS, adds: “Quilting and sewing enthusiasts across the globe will be both amazed and delighted at the way Riley Blake Designs has adapted some of the world’s finest botanical art to the colourful, fresh and beautiful fabrics it produces. This is a very beautiful and special collection.”