John Rodriquez Textile Collection
John Rodriquez became well known for his textile designs in the early 1950s. From 1950 to 1980 John was one of a handful of Australian textile designers who developed a new contemporary style with innovative use of colour. John's designs in the early 1950s were mostly of Aboriginal or geometric style. Later he turned to more abstract designs in the Scandinavian style. Later still he made bold use of colour. John introduced unique Australian styles which have been imitated often since. The John Rodriquez items held by Museum Victoria comprise several smaller samples of fabric designs from the post-war period; 1950s Christmas cards; 1970s wall hangings; domestic items such as tea towels, mixmaster and toaster covers; and potholders with Swiss and Scandinavian style and Australian flora and fauna designs. All items were screen printed by hand. The National Gallery in Canberra and the Powerhouse Museum also hold items made by John.
John Rodriquez (1928-2000) studied art and design at RMIT in the late 1940s and became well known for his textile designs in the early 1950s. From 1950 to 1980 John was one of a handful of Australian textile designers who developed a new contemporary style with innovative use of colour. John's designs in the early 1950s were mostly of Aboriginal or geometric style. Later he turned to more abstract designs in the Scandinavian style. Later still he made bold use of colour. He always stressed the importance of innovation. Many homes in Australia and overseas still have his art works in the linen cupboard. John's artistic talent blossomed at Upwey High School during World War II. He won a scholarship to RMIT where he studied design and painting under George Bell. After the War the absence of imports allowed local talent to flourish. John mixed dyes in the household blender and screenprinted his own designs on handkerchiefs, greeting cards and place mats on his kitchen table. He sold his work at Georges of Melbourne and The Primrose Pottery Shop in Little Collins Street. After two years he moved to a rented garage, then in 1957 he moved to a small factory, where he printed furnishing fabrics and was contracted to supply a Victorian hospitals with curtains. John had a strong eye for colour and style, and refused to compromise good design for commercialism. He was soon selling his work through many retail outlets, including David Jones and Marion Best in NSW, as well as most interior decorating shops in Victoria. One design, featuring a corroboree, sold hundreds of yards. Some dress fabrics were produced on an exclusive basis for dress manufacturers, such as Georges' special summer range. The design for the 1956 Olympics was made into skirts and sold ""like hot cakes"", according to John. In 1972 Rodriquez Pty Ltd expanded to two factories and John decided to stop printing furnishing fabric to concentrate on producing tea towels and other table and kitchen gift items of a higher standard of design and colour. The designs were printed on pure linen and cotton, principally featuring Australian flora and fauna. The collections of the National Gallery in Canberra and the Powerhouse Museum include several lengths of John's furnishing fabric, and John's work was featured in an exhibition 'The Australian Dream' at the Powerhouse Museum in the 1990s and in the National Gallery as part of a Grant Featherstone furniture display. The John Rodriquez Textile Collection at Museum Victoria includes several samples of fabric designs from the post-war period; 1950s Christmas cards featuring Indigenous motifs; 1970s wall hangings; and domestic gift products such as tea towels in Australian flora and fauna designs, covers for a wine cask and Mixmaster, and potholders. All items were screen printed by hand. John retired in 1988, handing the company to his son Rimian, who has automated the screen printing process. He still uses a few of his father's most popular designs. John passed away in 2000. References:Donor, Rodriquez Textile Collection.John Rodriquez' own summary of his professional life.John Rodriquez obituary published in The Age, October 2000.
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1950-1980; Aboriginal art; Artworks; Australian art; Australian Design; Commercial Decorative Arts; Decorative arts; Fabric Designs; Furnishings; Graphic Arts; Handcrafts; Screen Printing; Textiles; Textiles Manufacture; Visual arts