Sekers Fabrics: ‘Australian Artists Originals’

In January 1963, Sydney-based firm Sekers Fabrics (also known as Sekers Silks) launched ‘Australian Artists Originals’, a range of furnishing textiles, at the ‘Art in décor’ exhibition at the Dominion Art Gallery.

The fabrics were designed by ten contemporary Australian artists and exhibited alongside the original artworks. The artists were Judy Cassab, John Coburn, Russell Drysdale, Cedric Flower, Donald Friend, James Gleeson, Elaine Haxton, Clement Meadmore, John Olsen and Ian van Wieringen.

An article in Woman’s Day magazine in January 1963 declared that ‘art-loving homemakers, who could never afford to own original paintings by famous artists … can now turn fabric connoisseurs. They’ll be able to curtain their windows, upholster their furniture, and cover their cushions in fabrics designed by these artists’. Each design was available in a number of colourways.

The Australian branch of Sekers Silks was operated from 1949 by Hungarian émigrés Otto ‘Andrew’ and Vera Kaldor. The Kaldors had been in the textile trade in Europe in the 1930s and were friends of Nicholas (later Sir Nicholas) ‘Miki’ Sekers, the founder of the parent Sekers company in England in 1938.

The ‘Australian Artists Originals’ range was a departure for the Sekers label, which until then usually sourced designs from Europe. The artists were selected by the Kaldors’ son, John, now better known for his collection and sponsorship of international contemporary art. John Kaldor trained in textile design in Europe during the 1950s and after working for a time in the industry, returned to Sekers Silks with his parents in the early 1960s. He proposed the idea for the 'Australian Artists Originals' range and then managed the process– after the selected artists produced their designs, John Kaldor styled all the textiles and curated the original exhibition. The textiles were printed by the Kanebo company in Japan. 

About the author

Portrait of man in dark shirt against sandstone wall.

Michael Lech

Curator

As our curator of the Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection (CSL&RC) and online collections, Michael has a deep interest in the history of houses, interiors and domestic furnishings in Australia.