Out of the shadows on to the stage

painters of light and shadow

 Painters of Light and Shadow, a powerful new play telling the little-known story of Sheffield’s Painted Fabrics, is being presented as part of the Enable Us festival at the Drama Studio this weekend.

Painted Fabrics was established by Annie Bindon Carter in 1923 following her encounters with injured servicemen at Wharncliffe War Hospital during the First World War.  The company provided an opportunity for these men - many of whom had worked in local heavy industry prior to the war - to regain meaningful employment as well as personal dignity.

The company sold its products - ranging from cushions to couture - through outlets in the UK and abroad, including Liberty's of London, as well as at high-profile exhibitions (at places such as Claridge's, Wentworth Woodhouse and Sheffield Cutler's Hall) which became society fixtures during the inter-war years.

The Workers’ Educational Association received a grant of £98,400 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to deliver a two-year project providing opportunities for people to learn about its fascinating story, develop heritage skills and respond through writing, painting, drama, textiles and other art forms.

Ignite Imaginations, The Art House, Museums Sheffield and both Sheffield universities have supported the project and Sheffield Town Trust provided £3,000 of further funding.

The project has also been supporting essential conservation work and the creation of a digitised photographic archive of the Painted Fabrics collection which will allow on-line public access to the collections for the first time.  

Into its second year, participants pass on what they have learned to new students.while  a group has been working  with theatre professionals Kate Rutter and Stacey Sampson to research and  produce Painters of Light and Shadow,  which tells the Painted Fabrics story through the eyes of one of its families. Those not performing  have been designing costumes, accessories and props.

It is at the Drama Studio on Saturday and Sunday, 7.30pm.

The whole project will conclude with a celebration event in April at the Cutlers Hall – where the Painted Fabrics Company last displayed its wares over half a century ago.