Theo Moorman archive

Scope and Content

The archive consists of

  • Sketches, drawings, weaving designs, including preparatory work for various commissions
  • Woven textile samples
  • Photographs
  • Slides, including images of Theo Moorman's work with sketch designs&weaving notation attached
  • Miscellaneous papers and documents

Dates of samples and documents are listed in the archive's catalogue where know. Full descriptions&dimensions of all textile samples are given.

Administrative / Biographical History

Theo Moorman was born Theodora Moorman in Leeds in 1907 . After her father's death in 1919  she moved with her mother to Oxley Hall, a residence for women at the University of Leeds. Moorman trained at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London between 1925-1928 , where she joined Walter Taylor's hand-weaving class.

She travelled extensively during this time; and after her training got a job weaving rugs in the Craft Studio at Heal and Sons Ltd run by Jeanetta Cochrane. In 1930  she took a room in Pimlico and while working freelance, continuing to weave cushion covers for Heals. She also wove rugs, curtains, wraps and stoles and private commissions.

In 1932  after a period in hospital, recovering from typhoid contracted while in Cairo, she moved with her mother to a small house in Hampstead Garden Suburb where she used the ground floor for her weaving workshop. She joined the Red Rose Guild and began to show at their exhibitions. She worked at Warner and Sons Ltd, Braintree between 1934-1939  producing hand-woven patterns for eventual power loom weaving, using both natural and synthetic yarns.

During the World War II she worked for the Ministry of Aircraft Production developing fabrics for camera shutters. From 1943  until 1953  she worked as Assistant Regional Director for the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (later the Arts Council), moving with her mother to Leeds. A legacy enabled her to set up a weaving studio again and she spent a year experimenting producing richly textured fabrics and brocaded patterns.

In 1957  she left Leeds for Painswick, Gloucestershire and continued to experiment with a variety of natural and synthetic materials, developing the so called space tapestries in 1963 . She became a member of the Guild of Gloucestershire Craftsmen in 1966  and in 1968  began what was to become a regular round of teaching and lecturing in the USA and Canada (as well as within the UK) until 1982 . She was made the Vice-President of the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers in 1969  and in 1970  the Chairman of the Guild of Gloucestershire Craftsmen. In 1975  she started experimenting with the production of small woven objects and in 1977  was awarded the MBE for services to weaving. In 1982  she spoke at the National Woolcrafts Festival in New Zealand and combined this with a travel tour. She completed numerous ecclesiastical commissions.

In 1985  the Theo Moorman Charitable Trust was formed and in 1987  an eightieth birthday exhibition organised at the Oxford Gallery where all works were sold.


The archive material is arranged in the original order in which it was deposited at the CSC.

Access Information

The archival material may be viewed by appointment only.


This entry was compiled by Becky Lyle, Submissions Officer for the project and by Jean Vacher, Collections Manager at the Crafts Study Centre. The biography was written by Frances Lord.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue is available onsite.

Conditions Governing Use

The photocopying of archival material is not allowed. Written permission must be sought before any archival material is published.

Appraisal Information

None timetabled


None expected

Related Material

The Crafts Study Centre holds other material relating to the Theo Moorman archive in the

  • Red Rose Guild archive

Also see access points


Selected bibliography

Theo Moorman 1907-1990 Her Life and Work as an Artist Weaver The University Gallery, Leeds, 1992

Geographical Names