Althea McNish

Vertical columns of vibrant reds, oranges, pinks, and purples cover a long, horizontal textile, with equally vibrant columns of leaf-like ovals overlaid on most of the fabric.


Black and white photo of Althea McNish, a dark-skinned woman with short black hair looking through a large book of textile patterns.

Althea McNish (British, 1924–2020) was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, and began painting at an early age. In the 1950s, she moved to London and established a career in textile design. She first studied at the London College of Printing and later turned to textiles. As soon as McNish had graduated from the Royal College of Arts in 1957, she was commissioned by Liberty to design furnishing fabrics. She became an important figure in the design world for her unprecedented combinations of patterns and colors. She was hired to produce several commercial commissions throughout her career, including experimental laminate panels for the SS Oriana liner’s restaurants, textile hangings in dyed cotton velvet for British Railways Board’s offices, and murals and hangings for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ships. 

As a founding member of the Caribbean Artists Movement, McNish took the Caribbean aesthetic to an international audience. She had a great influence on British textiles. Starting in 1971, she and her husband, John Weiss, had a studio where they designed for interiors, silverware, and textiles.


Spotlight On: Althea McNish
Althea McNish (British, born Trinidad, May 15, 1924 – April 6, 2020), was a textile designer who rose to prominence in London with her bright and tropical printed textiles inspired by the colors and landscape of her native Trinidad. ​She became one of the first Black British textile designers to garner international acclaim, enchanting her clients with textiles featuring vibrant palettes...
Primer plano sobre Althea McNish
Althea McNish (británica, nacida en Trinidad, el 15 de mayo de 1924, fallecida el 6 de abril del 2020) fue una diseñadora de textiles que se hizo famosa en Londres por sus telas estampadas vibrantes y tropicales inspiradas en los colores y paisajes de su Trinidad natal. Fue una de las primeras diseñadoras de textiles...
Image features: Printed length in a design of uneven vertical stripes with overlapping small oval leaf or bead shapes in strong reds, orange, blue, mauve and yellow. Please scroll down to read the blog post about this image.
Althea McNish: An Exceptional Talent
As part of the African-Caribbean diaspora of the mid-twentieth century, textile designer Althea McNish had a lasting impact on British design over the course of her career . Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, she studied painting and worked as a cartographer and illustrator for the British government there. [1] In 1951, she and her mother left the island to...