arts and design

Judith Found obituary

My colleague Judith Found, who has died aged 77, was a printed textiles designer who taught fashion print for 55 years at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.

Born in Horsforth, a town within the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire, Judith was the daughter of Edna (nee Tidswell) and Albert Found, a chief draughtsman for a firm of engineers in Bradford. She was brought up in Pudsey with two brothers, Michael and Paul, attending Primrose Hill secondary modern school.

After leaving school at 16, her passion for art led her to Dewsbury and Batley Technical and Art College, then Bradford School of Art. In 1964 she was offered a place on the textile design course at the Royal College of Art in London.

In the mid 1960s, the course started to address textiles for fashion in addition to furnishing fabrics, and Judith, along with her immediate predecessors Zandra Rhodes and Natalie Gibson, were early pioneers. Judith graduated in 1967 and won the silver medal for work of special distinction in printed textiles. She immediately started working as a freelance fashion print designer, selling designs to the photographer Elsbeth Juda, who with her husband Hans ran the Ambassador magazine for the promotion of British textiles and fashion, and Deryck Healey Associates in London, to fashion design studios in New York and Paris, and in Italy, Japan, Canada and Germany.

It was during her sales trips that Judith started to collect art deco antiques, bought from flea markets. When in the US she would rent an Oldsmobile and visit weekend field sales from New York to Pennsylvania. She furnished her West Hampstead home with furniture by Eileen Gray and Fiesta crockery, and maintained her love of driving with a string of fast cars – a blue Fiat 124 Sport was a notable favourite. Her design work expanded into knitwear and embroidered fabrics for Janice Wainwright, children’s wear for Lady Victoria Waymouth produced by Osborne and Little, as well as rugs and accessories.

At the same time, from her graduation from the RCA onwards, Judith taught printed textiles on the fashion design course at St Martin’s School of Art in London (now Central Saint Martins). She taught successive generations of designers including John Galliano, Katharine Hamnett, Matthew Williamson, Craig Green and Richard Quinn; as well as those who returned to the college as course directors, namely Louise Wilson and Willie Walters. She never retired.

Judith was a keen gardener, a stylish dresser, and fastidious about upkeep. She made darning look like the most elevated form of design.

She is survived by her brother Paul. Michael died in 2006.


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