MODERN DESIGN IN BRITAIN

The Ken Stradling Collection is as extraordinary as the man himself. A collector with an open mind and personal eye, his collection is open to all of us to see and even to handle – aware that feeling shape and texture are essential to fully enjoying the aesthetic of a piece of skilfully blown glass or hand thrown ceramic.

— MARGARET HOWELL

Ken Stradling joined the Bristol Guild of Applied Art in 1948, setting out to find and to sell new and innovative furnishings and objects for the home. Over the following 50 years Stradling developed ‘The Guild’ as a major centre for the appreciation and sale of design and craft. At the same time, and incidental to his growing reputation as a patron of contemporary design, Stradling began his own personal collection of twentieth and twenty-first century objects.

Margaret’s curated selection includes an outstanding group of furniture
designed by Bauhaus master Marcel Breuer for the home of Bristol furniture manufacturer Crofton Gane. Gane played a pivotal role in championing the Modern Movement in 1930s Britain and the exhibition reveals the little known but fascinating story of his patronage of one of the giants of twentieth century design.

To accompany the Breuer furniture, Margaret has chosen pieces that show the breadth and quality of The Ken Stradling Collection. Everyday domestic objects, such as a Robert Welch hand-milled steel tea set from 1962 and dressing table mirrors designed by Colin Beales and Peter Cudden in 1960 are shown
alongside a selection of studio glass from Scandinavia, including works by Erik Hoglund and Per Lutken, and studio pottery by some of the most admired artist potters of the twentieth century, including works by James Tower, David Leach and Betty Blandino.

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Margaret Howell in conversation with Ken Stradling. A short film by Inventory Magazine

The collection is unusually varied, eclectic and personal – often Ken’s sense of humour and whimsy creeps in. For our exhibition the selection of pieces
reflects my own aesthetic, choosing objects to compliment both the new and vintage products we source to sell in our shops. But for those who visit Bristol you will see much more.

— MARGARET HOWELL