School of Design

ULITA – an Archive of International Textiles

1and75 Mary Barker

Mary Barker poster, original image 1926-27

An MA Art Gallery and Museums Studies student group project in late 2017 has resulted in this stand alone display entitled ‘1&75, Mary Barker: the experiences and works of the first woman accepted as a student of textiles at the University of Leeds.

1&75 — so called as Mary Barker was the only woman amongst the seventy-five men on her course when she enrolled in 1926. 

Mary Barker’s story begins with her love of creativity, from an early age she describes herself as being ‘bitten by the art bug.’ Barker was born in 1907.  She grew up with a passion for art, and combined these two talents on her course, which involved study at both the University of Leeds and Leeds College of Art. This gave her the opportunity to mix technical weaving skills and creative elements of design.

As her career progressed, her work became increasingly abstract and experimental. Upon completing her course, Barker began a successful career in industry and design and became a highly respected teacher. She taught at Brighton School of Art and lectured  around the world, receiving an MBE for her services to her craft in 1992.

Items selected by the students are enhanced by biographical details.  There is a small collection of her works in ULITA.

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