Marianne Straub Collection

Scope and Content

Collection of material relating to Marianne Straub

Administrative / Biographical History

Marianne Straub (1909-1994) was a Swiss-born textile designer who worked with Ethel Mairet at Gospels and as consultant to woollen mills on behalf of the Rural Industries Bureau, and, from 1937, for Helios (later part of Warner and Sons Ltd). She taught at many institutions, including the Royal College of Art and the West Surrey College of Art at Farnham. In 1972 she was appointed Royal Designer for Industry by the Royal Society of Arts, and in 1985 she was appointed OBE. She was a founding trustee of the Crafts Study Centre.
Susi Dunsmore (d.2017), was an authority on Nepalese textile traditions, which she first recorded in two books, published in her handwritten text, with her own line drawings, Weaving in Nepal (1983), mainly about Dhaka weaving, and The Nettle in Nepal (2006).
Born Susi Heinze in Charlottenburg, Berlin, in 1927, she studied at art school in Düsseldorf. In 1958 she was invited to teach at a teachers' training college in Kuching, Borneo, where she wrote handbooks on art education and met her future husband, John Dunsmore, who was working in the department of agriculture. Her interest in indigenous cultures grew as she accompanied John to Belize and the Gambia, culminating in their work on sustainable development in Nepal. In eastern Nepal they encountered strong weaving traditions: in Dhankuta women produce a colourful fabric, dhaka cloth, and in Sankhuwasabha they spin and weave allo, the Himalayan giant nettle. Susi worked with the women to develop their skills and to introduce money-making products. She is remembered, for her assistance and friendship, as Allo Didi, meaning Auntie Nettle.
On John's retirement in 1987, they moved to Great Bookham, Surrey. SD's book Nepalese Textiles was published by the British Museum in 1993.
After John's death in 2001, SD continued to help Nepalese craftswomen. As a member of the London Guild of Weavers, she organised a competition to produce new designs for nettle fibre. This led to several guild members going to Kathmandu in 2004 to run a workshop for women from Sankhuwasabha. To continue this work and in memory of her husband, SD set up a charity, the John Dunsmore Nepalese Textile Trust. The trust has links with students from the Royal College of Art, for which SD established a travel scholarship.

Arrangement

/1 Letters to Susi Dunsmore from Marianne Straub, 1985-1990

Access Information

Archive material may be consulted by appointment only

Acquisition Information

Accession number: 2018.6 (MSC/1)

Note

This entry was compiled in October 2021 by Shirley Dixon, Crafts Study Centre Archivist.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogue on Crafts Study Centre database. A pdf copy is available on request.

Conditions Governing Use

Written permission must be sought before any archival material is published.

Appraisal Information

None timetabled

Accruals

It is likely that further Straub-related material will be offered to the CSC. Material of interest will be added to this collection.

Related Material

The Crafts Study Centre also holds technical notes by Marianne Straub (MST); correspondence between Susi Dunsmore and Peter COllingwood (PCC/1)