Mitzi Cunliffe, sculptor

A brief detour from textiles for a mention of sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe (1918-2006), whose work is perhaps tangentially linked to this project.

Man Made Fibres sculptureCunliffe created a striking sculpture representing textiles. Man Made Fibres was commissioned in 1955 for a new building of the same name (now Clothworkers’ South) at the University of Leeds. The sculpture features two huge hands with woven fabric between, like a huge darned patch or complicated cat’s cradle. I used to pass under this sculpture most days while I was studying textile design in the MMF Building

There’s currently an exhibition about her work in Leeds, at the University’s Stanley & Audrey Burton Gallery till 2nd July 2016. She also designed the Bafta trophy, work for the Festival of Britain, and other public sculptures, along with textiles, ceramics and jewellery in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Working with stone and heavy power tools likely caused the arthritis which led to a career change to teaching. She last exhibited in Oxford, where she lived, in 2001, as part of an exhibition of art by people with Alzheimer’s called Look Closer – See Me.



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