Centring on the influence of local silk makers David Evans & Co Ltd, founded in the 1800s, it shows how ingenious methods of silk making and printing developed in the area. Augustus Applegath, founder of the original print works in 1826, eschewed traditional handblock printing for curved copper plate methods, which are demonstrated via original factory equipment and footage of silk-makers at work.
Silks from Evans graced the shelves of Liberty’s, Elizabeth Emmanuel, Holland and Holland and even lined the wardrobes of Elton John. Evans’ back catalogue also inspired British designer JW Anderson for two Top Shop collections, some of which are on display alongside a typically eye-catching outfit from Sir Elton.
The works have been closed since 2001 but the rich print archive has plenty for visitors, and designers present and future, to enjoy.
At Hall Place, Bourne Road, Bexley DA5 1PQ, easily reached by rail from Charing Cross or London Bridge. Adults £7 / Conc £5
Free with National Art Pass. Until 16 March daily 10am-5pm (last entry 4.30pm).